Imaging a hard drive is basically creating an exact mirror copy of the hard drive. The copy is bootable and can be blasted onto the same or new hard drive fairly quickly. Of course, it can get out of date since the image is "frozen" in time, so making an image every month is a good idea. However, it is also smart to make a file-by-file backup procedure for extra peace of mind. It is recommended to use both backup methods in order to conserve important media and files.
Steven wants to know if it's better to image a drive or make a backup of everything. Leo says that imaging a drive makes for a quick reinstall that he can put back onto the hard drive quickly. But it's frozen in time and goes out of date quickly. That's where an incremental file backup comes in handy. Leo uses both and recommends that.
Jason bought a new HP laptop and wants to know how he can back it up while it's still pristine. Leo says he can create an image using imaging software and save it to a USB key.
Rob has set up a new computer, and he wants to clone his hard drive before he does anything else, so he'll have a backup. Leo says that's a great idea. Windows 10 has its own imaging utility under backup. But there are other solutions:
Sean has four hard drives on his computer. He then removed all the bloatware by reinstalling Windows. But now he has a full SSD and wants to know how to migrate all his settings, bookmarks, temp files, etc. to a larger drive. How can he do that? Leo says it's nontrivial to do this. The key is to make a perfect copy of his home directory. The problem is his Windows Registry. He can't just move that over. Settings for programs and logins are stored there, and he will lose those.
Paul upgraded to a Samsung 1TB SSD, but when he ran his cloning software it wouldn't clone because of the size difference. Leo says to look to see if the drive came with software (he may need to download it). Samsung Data Migration Software for Consumer SSD. If it doesn't get hung up on sector by sector cloning, he should have no problems.
Harvey wants to know what happened to the Windows image backup utility. Leo says it's still there, but it's oddly called Windows 7 backup. Here's a few other options:
One of the best ways to make a backup of your drive is to create a "disk image." This will essentially take a snapshot of the drive and make it bootable so you can restore your PC to that moment in time if your drive crashes. There are a number of third-party tools that you can use to do this, but Microsoft actually has included the ability to create a disk image right within Windows. Here's how to get to it:
Richard wants to know if he can run Windows off a thumb drive for security. Leo says that's a smart idea and it's not uncommon for Linux users. He should just understand that it will be slower. But it will enable him to simply reboot if something goes wrong. Leo recommends using a disk imaging command to make a disk image onto his thumb drive and then he can just blast it back on when it goes wrong. He can even make it bootable.
Lincoln wants to know if there's a computer he can buy that doesn't come with any trialware? Leo says that most computer companies do this to offset the cost of manufacturing them. Even Microsoft will bundle trialware in the install. Leo advises uninstalling all that stuff from the very beginning. Leo says that Microsoft is edging towards putting advertising in the OS through popups, and that's a bad thing. So Lincoln should get rid of it all, and install only the programs he always uses, then create a stock Windows install by making an image copy that he can boot up to just in case.