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.
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 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.
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.
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