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Hard Drive Image Software - The Best Way to Image a Hard Drive


Summary: Want to image a hard drive for your Windows 10/8/7 computer to protect your computer from a disk issue or system corruption? Is there any way for this task? The professional hard drive image software - MiniTool ShadowMaker makes things easier.

What Is an Image of Hard Drive?

What is a disk image? As to this question, it is easy to understand. To put it simply, it refers to a copy or a full snapshot of a data storage device which can be a hard drive, USB flash drive, DVD, CD etc. When taking a hard drive image, the image will have identical contents to the original storage device, including both data and structure information.

As to backup method, the disk image is becoming the primary choice due to its merits and it can make more sense for backup. There is a point you should know: during the process of creating an image backup for your disk, all the files of the target hard drive will be compressed into an image, which can save much disk space. Besides, multiple image backups can be put on only an external hard drive.

What Can Hard Drive Image Do for You?

Nowadays, although the computer technology makes a big progress, many disk problems still exist in your Windows 10/8/7 computer. For example, system crash always comes out of the blue because of several factors including virus attack, hardware or software failure, sudden power outage and so forth. For many ordinary computer users, the common solution is to reinstall operating system as well as applications but it seems to be time-consuming and troublesome.

Perhaps you will ask us: I have antivirus software to protect my PC, so it is not necessary to create a backup. Actually, this is not the case. This post - Is Antivirus Really Necessary? 7 Skills to Run PC without Antivirus tells you more details.

Aiming at this situation, the best way is to image a hard drive to another hard drive by means of a free hard drive image tool. Once system crashes, the image file can be utilized to restore the system to the previous status. Besides, the hard disk image is also available to get data back when your disk gets damaged.

How to Image a Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7?

Right now, it is time to take actions to make an image of hard drive for your computer. How can you achieve this aim? Is it an easy thing?

Why MiniTool ShadowMaker?

In fact, a piece of professional image backup software plays a key role in finishing this task. Which one is right for you?

The disk data keeps on being modified, updated or added every day. For computer protection, perhaps there is not enough time for you to make a full hard drive image day after day, besides, it is time-consuming and wastes disk space. Hence, the image backup tool you use should be able to automatically image your hard drive and create an incremental or differential backup for only changes of the disk. Here, the professional free PC backup software - MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition can be your wise choice. With its powerful features, backing up the system, disk and partition can be completed with ease for Windows 10/8/7 users.

How to Image a Hard Drive with MiniTool ShadowMaker?

Here let's see how this free image backup software works for disk image backup.

Step 1: After downloading the Free Edition of MiniTool ShadowMaker and installing it on your computer, just turn on it. Then, click Connect in This Computer section.

local backup

recommend Tip: Here you can use MiniTool ShadowMaker Free 1.0 to manage the local computer. For remote backup, please ask the Beta 3.0 for help.

The following figure shows you some differences between Free Edition and Beta Edition:


Step 2: You will go to the Home page where you can see one prompt message. If there is no backup yet on your computer, please click SET UP BACKUP button to start data protection.

Step 3: Now you are in the Backup tab where you need to choose the source disk and the hard drive image storage location by entering the corresponding section. Click Back up Now to begin the hard disk image in Manage.

backup now

Here are some matters you should pay attention to:

① When entering the Backup page, you see system partitions in the current system are selected by default by MiniTool ShadowMaker.
② As to imaging a hard drive, please manually click Source module, select one hard disk from the list and check all the partitions. (In general, the system disk should be selected firstly for computer protection.)

disk backup
③When entering Destination module, two kinds of paths can be chosen, including This Computer and Shared Folder. Which one should be selected? It is up to you.

Here, we take the first one as an example. For a local backup, an external hard drive is a good path for the disk image storage. Note that the partition you choose should be large enough to save the image file.


tip For a backup, it should follow a certain rule. Read the post The Best Practice: 3-2-1 Backup Strategy for Home Computers to learn much information.

So far, we show you how to image a hard drive with MiniTool ShadowMaker with simple steps. Besides, you can also make some advanced settings for the hard drive image, for instance, create an automatic backup, set a backup scheme, add a comment for the backup and more. See the details:

  • Scheduled Backup
    By default, Schedule is disabled. Turn off to on, then start to create an automatic backup.

    1. MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition 1.0 only allows setting the time point according to Daily, Weekly, and Monthly. On Event is only included in MiniTool ShadowMaker Beta 3.0.

    2. Schedule adopts incremental backup mode by default. By this way, all the changed or added data on your disk can be backed up at a specific time point, which can protect your computer well.


  • Backup Scheme

    Scheme feature is capable of performing disk space management. Likewise, it is disabled by default. So, turn on it and choose one backup scheme.

    Note that you can only use Incremental in MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition 1.0. If you want to change the backup scheme to Full or Differential, ask the Beta 3.0 for help.


  • Options

    By clicking this button, you can make many advanced settings for hard drive image backup. By it, it is available to set image creation mode, add a comment for the disk backup, select one compression level, etc.


    To sum up, MiniTool ShadowMaker, a piece of professional hard drive image software, is really worth recommending to you to image a hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. By means of it, a scheduled backup can be created for data protection. Besides, during the backup process, it is also allowed to delete certain image backup file versions for disk space management. Well then, free download this disk backup tool on your computer in an instant for a try or share it with your friends.

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One question may be asked by you: I have made an image for the system disk, what should I do to recover my system or disk data after a system crash or disk failure? Read the help document now.

How to Image a Hard Drive Windows 10/7/8 with Windows Snap-in Backup Tool

In addition to resorting to the third-party software, there are plenty ways you can do to back up system and data. Thereinto, the Windows built-in backup tool is one of them. Take Windows 10 as an example.

Step 1: Go to Control Panel.
Step 2: Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under System and Security tab.
Step 3: Click Create a system image in the left panel.

Tip: While reading here, a question comes: is it possible to use this feature to make a disk image? Of course. This backup tool allows you to choose all partitions on the current system disk for backup.


Step 4: Then, please decide where you want to save the backup. Here from the figure below, you know three kinds of storage paths are supported, including a hard disk, one DVD or a network location.

As to the hard disk, it is selected commonly. To make a success full image backup by this image backup tool, please make sure that the disk has enough available space.


Step 5: Now it is time for you to decide which drives you want to include in the backup. As we have mentioned before, Windows backup tool allows you to make an image of hard drive. Here, the system partition is checked by default and all data partitions detected by OS are listed, except the destination partition you have selected.

Please check data partitions on your system disk for system disk backup. Here, we choose D and H drive.


Step 6: Then one window pops up to inform you to confirm your backup settings. Then, start to back up the entire system disk.


MiniTool ShadowMaker VS Snap-in Windows Backup Tool

For making a hard drive image, which should be the best solution, the third-party software or the built-in backup tool in Windows 10/8/7? As far as we are concerned, MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition is your best choice for hard drive image backup since Windows backup tool has some limits.

1. Incremental backup and differential backup are not supported by it but MiniTool ShadowMaker allows you to create these two backups.
2. The disk image created by Windows backup tool occupies more disk space than MiniTool ShadowMaker.
3. When using Windows backup tool to image a hard drive or system, maybe you face many issues, such as Windows backup failed not enough disk space, Windows backup did not complete successfully error, 0x807800C5 and more.
4. Windows backup tool only helps to back up the current system disk. If you need to create a disk backup for another hard drive, it is not available.

Thus it can be seen that MiniTool ShadowMaker is worthy of being recommended as the best backup solution. When there is a need, just download this free backup software.

Tip: Another Disk Backup Method

Now, you have learned how to back up your disk by disk imaging. Actually, there is another backup method you can use for hard disk backup, which is disk cloning. Suppose that you search "hard drive image" in Google, you can find many users search "how to clone a hard drive Windows 10/7". See the Latent Semantic Indexing (related page keywords) below:


If you want to back up your computer by disk cloning, how to do it? MiniTool ShadowMaker can be as not only backup & restore software but also PC cloning software. Just launch it and then navigate to Tools to click Clone Disk.


Then, click the corresponding section to choose the source disk and target disk. Click OK to begin the cloning.


Read this post - How to Clone a Hard Drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7 to get more details. Moreover, if you want to know something about cloning VS imaging, refer to this guidance - Disk Imaging VS. Disk Cloning.


In this post, we tell you what is a hard drive image and what can the disk image do for you. Then, you know much information about how to image a hard drive with two image backup tools. By contrast, it is worth recommending MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition for disk image since it plays an important role in making an automatic backup, differential backup or incremental backup and cloning a hard drive inWindows 10/8/7.

When you use our software to back up your computer, perhaps some issues will happen to you. Don't worry. Please write a comment in the following zone to tell us or send your problem to our website email - [email protected]. In addition, as for the suggestions, please also share them with us. Thanks in advance.