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Is Imaging Hard Drives The Same As Cloning?

​Cloning a drive and imaging a drive are two processes that ultimately achieve the same outcome. Essentially they copy everything on the hard drive. Its possible to clone a disk by using a disk image, but the two are distinctly different in the process they use to copy hard drives. Disk cloning creates a functional drive-to-drive copy of the hard drive, while disk imaging creates an archive of a hard drive that can be used to make a drive-to-drive copy.

Cloning and Imaging Hard Drives

Both procedures are different than just copying and pasting everything from one hard drive to another. This is because when you copy and paste files from one drive to another you're copying only the actual files. This doesn’t include all the supplementary data the drive uses to locate and access those files. For instance it won’t obtain the master boot record. Basically a copy and paste backup drive wont boot.

​Disk Cloning

Disk cloning is the process of copying the entire contents of one hard drive to another including the additional data mentioned before that enables you to boot to the operating system from the drive.​

Cloning essentially allows you to make drive-to-drive copy of one of your computers hard drives on another hard drive. That second copy of the hard drive is completely functioning and can be instantly swapped with the computers existing hard drive and work as the intended. Basically a cloned drive is perfect to have and use in the event that something happens to your original such as a mechanical fault or a malicious virus finds its way on there.

​Disk ​Imaging

In comparison disk imaging is the procedure of creating a backup copy of the all the contents of a hard drive.​

Fundamentally the image is a storage file of sorts that contains all the data stored from the original hard drive and all the necessary data to boot to the operating system. The key difference however is the image needs to be installed to the hard drive in order to work. You can't reinstate a drive by just simply transferring image files on it.​

Here at R3 Data Recovery, in trying to explain this to customers, sometimes can cause confusion from customer’s perspective, when they receive their data back after the data has been recovered from an internal hard drive out of a PC or laptop. Basically because they think they can just hook up the external drive and continue the same as before the original drive failed. Without that supplementary data on there and an operating system this is not possible as mentioned previously.

Disk images are usually used for restoring a hard drives previous contents or transferring contents to a new hard drive. Or in our case at R3, it enables us to work freely and without worry on recovering certain data from a drives image. This is because if we didn’t image the customer​'s drive to a fresh drive and we were to work exclusively from the customers original drive even once repaired could easily fail again due it already being in a weakened state.

So ultimately there are differences between imaging and cloning hard drives. At R3 Data recovery we use both processes, and its useful to know that always imaging a drive as we do here at R3 is the best and most cautious approach to handling and hopefully recovering a customer’s precious data.

Hard drive failures require immediate action. You need fast, secure results, and R3 offers the solutions you need to effectively maintain your data and system after any type of failure. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

Posted In: Data Recovery | Hard Drive

What Our Customers Say About Us

I lost my data after inadvertently deleting my hard drive instead of my wife’s micro SD card in her phone. This was late at night after putting in some serious hours so I can only assume I was over tired and not really thinking. I right clicked the drive I thought was my wife’s card, it asked if I wanted to format it, I said ok and renamed it. A few seconds passed and I took out the SD card put it in the phone and the photos were still there. It took me a few moments to realise what I had done. When I went to the drive that held ten years work there was nothing there and it was renamed.

I went drip white I could hardly breathe… My wife came in asking what was wrong I explained that I had deleted the hard drive and lost everything not just photos, contracts, books I wrote, manuals for my company, all the history of everything I had ever done.

I quickly Googled data recovery whilst my wife found my friend Jack Daniels, there were a few that came up some saying they were 24 hours, when I rang no answer. I came across R3 Data Recovery and they said they were 24 hours, I rang and a real person answered my call. The chap I spoke to calmed me down, asked what I had done and what I had done after. I had the insight to not try and do anything myself as well as do nothing else to the drive. He told me they have great success and a good track record. I explained to him that right now I had lost anything so any data recovery would be better than none.

I have now had the drive back for a week or so and I have not found any of the work that is missing. I have lost my honeymoon pictures, however I may have these on disc somewhere. I estimate the data recovery is about 85%-90% successful. I know there are things missing but it has allowed me to carry on seamlessly without any major issues. I have as of yet to have really missed something. There was a bit of a glitch with the lead that when I connected the drive to the computer it told me the drive had malfunctioned. They organised a pick up the next day and within three days I had a new lead and the data was there. I think all in all even with the lead issue the returned my data within the ten days they said.

I cannot recommend them highly enough. Do not go for anyone else nor attempt anything yourself just call these guys and leave it with them, They kept me very informed and have done a cracking job I am amazed… they exceeded my expectations, thankfully.

Thank you R3 Data Recovery

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R3 Data Recovery Services are designed to meet the needs of businesses and home users requiring a fixed cost, highly successful data recovery solution.

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​If your hard drive happens to fail, contact our team of experts. Our skilled professionals will be able to reliably recover data on your hard drive and provide industry-leading turnaround times which give you the confidence that's necessary to develop a solid, effective recovery plan.


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