What is Disk Image and Why to Create One?

A disk image, a single compressed file, is an exact copy of computer’s hard drive, which holds all data including operating system installation, boot information, applications, and individual files.

Hard Drive

Why need to create a disk image? Normally, disk imaging is used in several major areas:

  • Data Protection: Most users create a disk image to prevent data loss from a virus, system crash or disk failure. Just like our human beings, every hard drive is going to die eventually. If so, you can buy a new hard drive and replace the dead one, and then restore disk image to bring your computer to the state when it works well and all data is intact.

  • System Migration: Because the performance of SSD is better than HDD, more and more people are more willing to clone HDD to SSD or migrate OS to another computer with better hardware. Thus, disk imaging is an alternative way to directly clone. Also, you can create a system image.

  • OS Deployment: Large companies often need to buy large numbers of new computers with same or different hardware. Installing operating system and programs into each of them one by one requires a lot of time and effort and has a significant possibility of human error. Therefore, system administrators create a disk image with fully prepared applications environment of a well-adjust system to quickly deploy it to each computer by using PXE network boot. This method saves time and effort.

Choose the Best Disk Image Maker

When looking for a free disk imaging software, it is important to make an informed decision on which product is right for you. The following criteria can help you evaluate the best hard drive imaging software.

  • Easy to Use - The disk image creator should have a concise and user-friendly interface, which makes the operation readily comprehensible.
  • Set and Forget - The data on disk is modified, updated and added every day. For data protection, you may don’t have enough time to create a full disk image day by day, which will waste time and disk space. Thus, the ability to automatically create hard drive image and only save changes into disk image (known as incremental & differential backups) is an important criterion.
  • Different Environments Recovery - The best disk imaging software not only enables you to create a disk image, but also allows you to restore a disk image to different environments. For example, restore disk image to a hard drive having different size/interface, to an unbootable system, etc.
  • Compatibility - The best hard disk imaging software should keep abreast of the latest technologies, such as Windows 11, GPT/UEFI, dynamic disk and so on.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is a powerful disk image creator which not only meets the requirements above, but also is FREE to use. It supports Windows 11/10, Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, Vista and XP.

How Do I Create a Disk Image in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7?

1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, or choose a proper version on the download page. Move your mouse pointer to “Backup” and click on it. Then, choose “Disk Backup” from the right list. After that, you will set up something.

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Disk Backup

2. First, you are able to edit the default “Task Name”.  Then click "Add Disk" to choose the disk.

Add Disk

3. Select the disk of which you want to create an image.

Select Disk

4. The program also has automatically selected a location to save the disk image file. You can click on it to choose another location. To save a disk image to a local disk, an external hard drive, a USB flash drive or CD/DVD, please click “This PC” (or “Computer”) and choose the destination.

Select Backup Destination

Backup to

Tip: You can also save a disk image to a NAS device or network drive by selecting “Add Share or NAS Devices" from the drop-down menu of the destination box.

5. You have almost finished. However, to ensure your disk image is up to date, you’d better create a scheduled disk image backup using the “Schedule Backup” feature. Here you can choose from multiple schedules, such as Daily, Weekly or Monthly.

Schedule Settings

Click "Backup Scheme", and you can choose to run the scheduled backup in the way of incremental/differential backup or full backup.

Backup Method

Besides, you can configure backup settings by clicking “Options”. For example, write a comment and compress the disk image with a higher level, etc. Encrypting the system image with a password is only available in the Professional edition or higher.

Backup Options

6. To create image of hard drive immediately, click “Start Backup”.

Start Backup

How to Do Disk Image Recovery

AOMEI Backupper provides fast and flexible disk image recovery solutions:

  • If your system crashes or disk fails, you can use Create Bootable Media to make a Windows PE bootable USB or CD to start up computer and then perform disk image recovery.

  • To run backup and restore operations without booting Windows, you can also create recovery environment in advance. Please note the recovery environment will become invalid if your C drive is wiped or damaged.

  • If you only want to choose individual files instead of the entire disk to restore, you can use Explore Image to mount disk image as virtual partitions and copy data.

  • If you want to replace your old computer with a new computer with different hardware, you can use Universal Restore in Professional to perform hard drive image recovery.

  • If you want to deploy a disk image to multiple computers simultaneously instead of one by one, you can use AOMEI Image Deploy to perform image deployment.