Quote: Originally Posted by PinkiPad
What is an image backup? I've always backed up all files on a particular HDD.
Anyway, I want to back up everything on the computer, from HDD to hidden files. If I had total hard drive failure I'd want to be able to restore all.
It sounds like you are a candidate for imaging.
An image backup includes EVERYTHING on the partitions imaged--whatever is in that partition or partitions. If the C partition is imaged, that would include Windows, installed applications, configuration info, licensing info, and personal data files IF those files are kept on C. You end up with a single "image" file, which can later be restored.
Images are most commonly used to restore a system when a hard drive or partition fails, or when moving to a larger hard drive.
Images can be used to back up partitions that don't contain Windows (typically a data partition), but that is not their most common use.
An image file cannot be saved on a partition contained within the image. The typical method is to store the image on an external drive or a second internal drive. You could store an image on another partition on the same drive, but that is frowned on.
Individual personal data files can usually be extracted from an image file, but you are best advised to back up data without using an image.
Imaging applications typically require the use of a recovery disc. You make the recover disk within the imaging application and then boot from it to restore your previously made image file. The recovery disks are often Linux-based and need to be checked to confirm they will boot and that your image file and partitions can be located.
An image file can contain multiple partitions or an entire hard drive.
They aren't foolproof. Be prepared for failure and know what you will do in that case.
Windows 7 includes a built-in imaging capability, but it's a bit convoluted and cranky. Some people use it successfully and others use a third party application.