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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Disk imaging for Windows and Linux

Hello all. Today I will be talking about how I make disk images. What are disk images you say? Well, my friends at Gizmos Freeware will explain that. My methods of disk imaging are as follows:

1) Windows
  • AX64 Time Machine: This revolutionary program allows you to make snapshots of your system quickly and efficiently. After the first baseline image, all snapshots are made with only changes in your data, making them small and efficient. All of this is done every hour while you're using Windows! There is very little performance impact, as it is low-key and done in the background. You can even restore Windows while running it! Of course, it's not possible to use your system at the same time, and there may be bugs. But it can also restore from its special recovery environment when you boot from a recovery media or a separate boot entry. This method is foolproof, although slower.
2) Linux
  • LVM: This is the Linux alternative of AX64 Time Machine. It works similarly, and stores all changes in a separate partition of your drive. Backup is done automatically in real-time, and restore is as simple as booting a LiveCD and deleting all the changes! So this method is even faster than AX64! More details here: http://linuxconfig.org/linux-lvm-logical-volume-manager
  • Backup system files manually: This method can also run when you're using the OS. Unfortunately, it is not automatic unless you make a cron job. Restoring is also significantly more difficult, but you can learn about that here: http://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/how-to-shutdown-after-dd-completes-or-alternative-imaging-for-linux-with-that-feature.367295/#post-2401125
3) Any OS
  • Clonezilla: This free program boots from a LiveCD and can backup/restore any OS! I used it for a hackintosh machine once. This allows you to backup and restore whenever you want, but not when the OS is running.
That's it for today, I had slept in after sleeping very little the day before yesterday, so unfortunately I didn't have as much time to write. Also I'm staying over at a good friend's house, so yeah. Have a nice night!


  1. I've been using Acronis True Image (paid version) for a long time and its saved my bacon a few times. It can be buggy at times and its automatic backup tends to fail too often so I do an incremental backups monthly.

    I would be willing to switch to something like AX64 Time Machine but would like to get some feedback first so I'll be checking it out to see how others like it. Have you restored a complete image yet and what was the outcome?

    1. I've done plenty of restores, and it's not perfect either. Although there has been little to no problems with the automatic backups, hot restores from within Windows can sometimes fail. The best indicator of that is no HDD light blinking. Sometimes it appears to freeze, but is actually still working if the HDD indicator still blinks.

      On the other hand, I've never had a cold restore from the rescue media fail me. Although much slower than hot restore which only writes the changes, in cold restore the entire baseline image along with all snapshots you've selected up to are written. Therefore, I hot restore for convenience, and cold restore if that fails somehow.

      On the newer version 2.0 I haven't bought, there is a new feature called warm restore. It's supposed to be almost as fast as hot restore and almost as reliable as cold. It installs a Windows PE boot environment as a separate boot menu on startup of your machine.

      Although I've had little personal experience with most of the software listed here, I believe this is a good resource to look into: https://www.raymond.cc/blog/10-commercial-disk-imaging-software-features-and-backuprestore-speed-comparison/

  2. Thanks for the link on image comparison. Who would of thought AOMEI Backupper would have scored so highly.

    I think I will stick with Acronis, although not perfect it has been reliable enough to get me through those rough spots.