For backing up entire hard drives, optical discs or other logical disks, creating a disk image is one of the most secure, most efficient and most reliable methods. A disk image is an exact, sector-by-sector replica of a drive, CD, DVD or other type of media. Disk images are contained within a single file, which can be compressed and stored on a hard drive, USB drive or CD or DVD. Depending on the settings you choose, disk images can be saved with the file extension .img, .cdr, .dmg, .iso and others. R-Drive Image, our disk cloning utility, uses a commercial proprietary format with the .arc extension.
Disk images can be used to completely restore a system after a crash, system failure or virus attack. Disk images are also useful for deploying multiple workstations or computers with the exact same settings. Rather than configuring each and every computer one by one, you can set up one system with the desired settings, create an image from the computer's system disk and then deploy it to the other computers. Disk image are also a useful alternative to mailing physical CDs or DVDs, allowing developers to distribute installation disks via the Internet.
While most programs treat disk images as source material for system restores or backups, you don't have to restore an entire disk image at a time. R-Drive Image, for example, allows you to mount a .arc file as a virtual disk and copy files from it one at time without going through a lengthy system restore process.
For example, let's say that you deployed identical system to an entire IT department using a master disk image. Then, let's say six months down the road, one of your workstations suffers a system crash that damages some vital printer drivers. Everything else about the system is working fine, except for those printer drivers. You could restore the entire system from the original master disk image. Or, you could connect the disk image as a virtual disk and pull only those printer drivers that you needed. Performing the latter task only takes a fraction of the time.
In essence, R-Drive Image lets you treat disk images just like you would a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disc. You can mount it as a read-only drive that can be accessed by Windows Explorer or any other file exploration tool-except you don't have the inconvenience of burning a disc or cloning the data to a removable storage device. See R-Drive Image help for details: Connect an Image as a Virtual Logical Disk
In summary, disk images allow you to create exact replicas of system disks and other drives or media. These disk images can be restored, thereby duplicating the original system as it was at the time you created the disk image. Alternately, you can mount the disk image as a read-only virtual disk and access the files one-by-one. Both techniques are invaluable tools for data recovery, systems administration and technical support teams. R-Drive Image makes it easy to create disk images, duplicate systems from a disk image and access files from within a disk image.