Disk Imaging Software is used to create backups of software and data stored on computers and servers. These software solutions take a snapshot – hence, the name “image” – of a live device’s operating system, applications, architecture, registry, and even user customization. These images are then “deployed” onto another device.
The main reasons you would need disk images would be if:
- You need to take a backup of a mission-critical system and store it as a fallback or disaster recovery solution
- You are afraid a corrupt hard disk is about to call it quits and you need to extract all, or as much possible, data from it – with the intention of transferring it to another disk
- You need a master template to deploy a system across a network – you simply take one master or “golden” image and replicate it on every device that is on your network
As you can see, there are various scenarios where disk imaging software could become an indispensable tool to an administrator.
Here’s our selection of the Best Disk Imaging Software and solutions:
- Acronis True Image Powerful disk imaging tool that focuses on making sure every deployment is as secure as possible with the help of its antimalware feature.
- Handy Backup Ideal tool for small businesses that have larger databases and applications that are diverse; it can even create images of virtual machines.
- DeepSpar Disk Imager Specifically created to rescue data from failing or corrupt hard disks; algorithms can be used to piece missing information back together.
- FlashBoot Users looking for a tool to be used in smaller environments or on home computers will be delighted to know that all they need is a USB stick and an OS image to get on with cloning.
- O&O Disk Image Cloning and backup tool that is so unobtrusive that it can work on the device even as it is being used; it can also be used to create fully-independent bootable media to be used on the go.
- AOMEI Backupper Backup and imaging tool that works with many versions of Windows, can handle an array of storage devices and supports both 32-bit and 64-bit processor architectures.
- SmartDeploy When using this tool, images are created independently and in layers; this makes it easier and economical to send out only the required part of an operating system, and not the whole distribution.
- FOG Project Open-source, community-driven imaging tool that works with various operating systems and their versions or flavors; it can tackle deployments from larger machines and on to smaller disks.
The Eight Best Disk Imaging Software
Diving right in and looking into the 8 Best Disk Imaging Software solutions in detail, we have:
1. Acronis True Image
Acronis True Image comes to us via Acronis, a leader in the data backup and protection industry. It is an easy-to-use tool that is also a trustworthy and advanced antimalware solution provider.
There are more useful features packed into this imaging software, some of which include:
- Disk cloning, all-in-one recovery drives, end-to-end encryption, and other novelties that help ensure the safety of data that is being cloned.
- Recoveries and deployments are fast – entire systems can be restored with just a few clicks; it doesn’t matter if the target device is the same one or a new one, Acronis is quick to deploy the images.
- In fact, the tool offers full flexibility and allows for custom backups – with everything from full system images to individual files – sent to any storage platform, including the cloud.
- This imaging software also combines backing-up with protection, via its antimalware solution, making it a complete security package that eliminates having to deal with multiple solutions or handle complex security software integration issues.
- As a matter of fact, security is controlled centrally and admins can run scans, manage exclusion lists, and keep an eye on quarantined items; analysis of these features are easily monitored with the help of graphic displays showing current threats and statuses updated – all in real-time.
- Preemptive action can be taken by basing decisions on the vulnerability assessment tool which keeps an eye on systems looking for susceptibilities – should any threat be detected, recommendations help to make informed actions that are as effective as possible.
- On-demand scanning – be it a quick scan or an in-depth one – covers all types of documents, media, applications, and operating system files found in all locations of a system; detected threats are handled with the help of an AI-enhanced technology that stays abreast of the latest security issues
- An example of a very relevant threat-prevention would be the Videoconference Protection for conference platforms – like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex – Acronis stops malware injection, hacking, and exploit attacks targeting these conference solutions
The feature that makes this disk imaging software solution stand out is its dedication and commitment to the security and protection of data, files, and the users themselves.
Try Acronis True Image FREE or 30 days.
2. Handy Backup
Handy Backup is made by Novosoft LLC. This disk imaging tool boasts an impressive array of features for a small-ish software solution.
Some of these features include:
- Handy Backup is an easy-to-use and reliable backup and disk imaging software that offers a solution for all kinds of users: Handy Backup Standard, Handy Backup Professional, Handy Backup Small Business, and Handy Backup Server Network.
- The application can run on Windows and Linux servers and also supports databases like MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and any ODBC interfacing solutions.
- It is an all-in-one solution: admins can perform data backups for files, folders, as well as databases.
- They can even create disk images for storage that hold media or even emails – it can backup Outlook data files; admins can specify data types using wildcard data selections (“*.docx”, “*.jpg”, etc.).
- Admins can even save snapshots of their virtual machines: Handy Backup Server Network can back up Hyper-V images on both local and remote machines, as well as VMware or VirtualBox virtual machines; it can also copy VM hosts and arrays online.
- A variety of plug-ins can be used to automate backups that can then be stored anywhere: on local hard drives, external drives, NAS, and network backups via FTP, to name a few.
- In fact, Handy Backup also offers cloud backups to popular platforms like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox.
- Also, the execution of full, incremental, and differential backups can be automated to perform as scheduled tasks and according to a timetable.
The best thing about this disk imaging solution is the fact that, although it is on the lighter side, it can still go toe-to-toe with the best of the solutions out there – it is definitely not a software solution to take lightly.
Try Handy Backup FREE for 30 days.
3. DeepSpar Disk Imager
DeepSpar Disk Imager (DDI) is an HDD imaging device that was specifically built for the purpose of recovering data from corrupt or failing hard drives. It retrieves data quickly, accurately, and without compromising its integrity. Also, it uses different algorithms to scan multiple sectors of a drive before recovering critical information.
But, there’s more:
- The tool replicates a corrupt disk’s content on a new drive before it starts its data recovery operation; the recovery can, in fact, now be done from the cloned drive – or even as the data is being cloned – to reduce the wear-and-tear of, and further damage to, the source drive.
- The tool starts by attempting to clone the source disk as a whole – sector by sector, Once that is done, the recovery of any remaining data is continued from the clone, but every head can also be processed according to its level of corruption. Admins can even use custom algorithms and workflows for any specific hardware and data issues.
- DeepSpar Disk Imager has a “lighter touch” function that disables background firmware processes and bad sector auto-relocation processes to avoid continuous movement of data and, hence, reduces read/write loads which could result in further data loss.
- It can even prioritize the data recovery procedure depending on the type of data it is cloning – boot sector data, file allocation tables, and system files can be given higher importance, for example.
- As a failsafe mechanism, the tool saves file information as soon as a disk becomes unresponsive, and can then do a reboot, should it remain inaccessible.
A great feature about DeepSpar Disk Imager is its capability to integrate with other in-house applications for backup/recovery, server administration, and network monitoring.
Unfortunately, there is no trial version for DeepSpar Disk Imager.
FlashBoot is an operating system image deployment tool for smaller businesses. It is a tool used to create images of Windows OS on a USB stick that can then be taken around to install on other machines.
The tool creates a fully installable clone of a Windows system – including applications and data – on a thumb drive. The drive can then be used to create images on new machines, even if they are dissimilar ones, as FlashBoot supports driver integration and has a library of its own pre-packaged drivers.
- The tool supports ESD formats of source Windows installation as well as the common ISO image files; for legacy systems, even the DVD of the original OS can be used.
- FlashBoot also offers bootable clones – a feature that allows users to run a fully independent Windows image from the USB drive; this makes it easy to access a complete working image while on the go and when using another computer.
- But, don’t worry: for those that are concerned that traces of their use would be left behind on the computer, once they are done with the bootable clone, they can rest assured this isn’t so. This is because FlashBoot runs without the need to modify the host computer’s registry; when needed, the tool uses INI files to store its state and settings.
- FlashBoot is not bound to one PC and the tool can be used on multiple computers without extra payment required; the license does not require any kind of online activation.
An impressive feature with this little image deployment tool is that FlashBoot doesn’t even need an online connection to perform its deployments. It is a self-contained, offline image distribution tool.
Download a FREE version of FlashBoot.
5. O&O DiskImage
O&O DiskImage 16 offers a safe and easy way to avoid losing important data. It doesn’t matter whether the data is a single file or a whole computer system, this disk imaging tool can back it all up – even while the device is in use.
Administrators can choose auto or manual backups, system restores, or cloning of hard disks leaving them free to focus on other tasks.
Some other features:
- Performing Incremental and/or differential backups: backing up changes only and, then, easily restoring files, folders, drives, and disks to the same or onto a new device – even if the hardware configuration of the destination machine is different from the source one.
- Restoration can be performed with just a few mouse clicks – even when the Windows OS is no longer able to start; this is because it is easy to create a Windows Boot system – with driver integration, no less – directly from within the program.
- In fact, the tool supports Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8 – in both 32 and 64-bit architectures.
- In case of loss of data, it can be quickly restored with just a few clicks – even when Windows is no longer able to start because there are O&O DiskImage tools that can repair the OS.
- The tool’s To Go function can turn external (or USB) drives into bootable media and also mark these drives as preferred storage drives – as soon as these drives are connected to a device, O&O DiskImage knows to start backing up onto them.
- On the other hand, all it takes to automatically start a restore process on a new device is to plug the drive in, and everything is restored from the operating system up, cutting time wasted on setting up programs and OSs.
A feature that stands out with O&O DiskImage is its ability to integrate the operating system and system configurations into a backup that recognizes the hardware environment and re-configures itself – even when a new, different machine is used.
Download O&O DiskImage and try it FREE for 30 days.
6. AOMEI Backupper
AOMEI Backupper is another tool to backup, restore, and clone Windows systems, data, and applications. There are multiple editions and versions available for enterprises, individuals, and all other users in between.
Here are some great features from this tool:
- Easy backups – automatic, full, incremental, and differential backups (all done in the background) of all files and OS on a drive; the process is seamless and doesn’t interrupt work going on in the foreground.
- Once a complete data backup has initially been performed, only changes are subsequently backed up which saves time and disk space; the backups can be scheduled to automatically cover OS or data and run on a daily, weekly, monthly, or custom cycle.
- It can back up all types of files – including documents, spreadsheets, media, and software – to an external hard drive or even NAS; in fact, administrators can automatically synchronize files and folders to NAS, cloud drive, local disk or external drive, using task scheduling, mirror syncing or real-time syncing.
- Supports internal disk, external hard drive, flash drive, and other storage devices that are recognized by Windows.
- The tool supports Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, and Windows XP – in both 32 and 64-bit architectures.
- Admins can clone HDD, SSD, and M.2 SSD, and deploy from one to the other during disk upgrades and data migration campaigns; they can clone large HDD drives onto smaller SSD drives – AOMEI can even create deployable clones of partitions or volumes.
A great feature with AOMEI Backupper is that admins can add comments to back up tasks to help in easily identifying what has been cloned, which system the backup is from, or any other critical information regarding the backup. In fact, the backup information can be edited to, for example, change the name, or reconfigure, the backup location.
Download and try AOMEI Backupper for FREE.
SmartDeploy has a rather unique way of tackling the backup and restoring of a Windows system and the applications running on it.
First, the whole computer’s architecture is logically broken down into various layers. They are the:
- OS layer
- Driver layer
- Application layer, and
- User data layer
These layers are then deployed and upgraded independently from each other.
This logical breakdown makes it quicker and easier to handle images. Instead of having to deal with images of every single device on the network, only the layers that need restoring or deployment are sent out. This comes in handy, for example, when an endpoint device fails. Admins can simply push the required drivers, system files, or applications – whichever has failed – instead of the whole installation.
More features include:
- OS, system, and application images can be accessed from almost any storage device including network servers, cloud storage, DVDs, and USB drives.
- Meanwhile, the endpoint devices themselves can be located anywhere: on a LAN, the Internet, or in the cloud.
- SmartDeploy even lets endpoint devices and users update and sync their files using third-party cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
- The driver layer is managed internally – there are over 1,500 Platform Packs to support all major OEMs which makes it easier to maintain one, central golden image that can be deployed to all endpoints, regardless of manufacturer or model.
- SmartDeploy can also bridge gaps between legacy solutions or comprehensive systems with a wild mixture of OS or versions running on them
- Once a system has been cloned and deployed, the old disk – or computer – can be formatted or even re-imaged back to the basic standards; this removes all traces of personal and confidential data belonging to the previous user
An outstanding feature with SmartDeploy is that it keeps track of versions of applications. When a new version is available it updates its Application Library, and tests it, before making a customized image available for deployment.
Register, download, and try SmartDeploy – FREE for 15 days.
8. FOG Project
With FOG Project we have a free, open-source network computer cloning and management solution. FOG is a Linux-based solution that works with many versions of Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1, 10), various Linux distributions, and macOS X operating systems.
It can be used to deploy and manage any desktop operating system, located anywhere, and using hardware-independent images; apart from remote computer administration and management, it can also be used to push images to multi-site installations.
Here are more features:
- With FOG, there are no bootable media and storage devices required; it uses TFTP and PXE to boot a machine and automatically download a tiny Linux client that immediately gets to creating an image of the whole device.
- The imaging software is self-contained with many network drivers built into the clients’ kernels which take care of installing and running the correct versions of a system so it is up and running smoothly once a deployment is over.
- FOG can even deploy a larger partition’s image onto a machine with a smaller hard disk, as long as the data that comes with the image can fit on the smaller disk.
- FOG Project is completely free for commercial use. Support is also completely free and backed by a thriving community forum that has over 30,000 users.
A surprisingly great feature about FOG Project – apart from it being absolutely free, that is – is that this tool can deploy many images at the same time. One golden image can be used to upgrade or fix numerous devices at the same time.
Download FOG Project here.