Anyone who’s ever experienced the shock of data loss, or had to spend hours recovering their system, will know the importance of backing up. Having a fall-back copy of both Windows – including all your favourite apps and painstakingly crafted settings – and your irreplaceable documents, media and other files is a no-brainer, but what is the best way to go out doing it?
O&O DiskImage Professional provides you with all the tools you need for backing up both individual data such as selected files and folders, plus take drive images of entire partitions and drives. While’s it’s still not a tool for complete beginners, it does provide some hints and tips to guide you towards protecting your data, and version 7 attempts to make things even easier with a redesigned dashboard-style interface.
After installing, the program will steer you to creating images of all your drives and partitions via the Image now button, but if you only want to protect a specific partition this way, follow its advice and click Start drive imaging to access the program’s imaging options, which – as you’d expect of a tool called “DiskImage” – is its bread and butter.
From here you select the drive or partition you wish to image, then opt to either image now or create a job, which allows you to schedule the backup to occur automatically at set intervals plus choose advanced tweaks such as running jobs before and after the backup itself.
DiskImage supports two types of images: full and incremental. You’ll need to take a full image the first time you back up a drive or partition, but once done, you’ll be able to choose the incremental option, which scans an existing full image and records only changes. It can actually take longer to back up this way, but the resulting backup files are much smaller. Incremental images can later be merged together should you wish to consolidate backups into a single file.
DiskImage also allows you to take what’s known as a “forensic” drive image. This ensures all data – including previously deleted or even corrupt data – is preserved in the drive image, allowing you to run data recovery tools on the disk image instead of the original drive. Set up these options via the Edit > Imaging Options screen.
You can also opt to back up individual files and folders with O&O DiskImage – this is a simple case of browsing a file explorer window for items to back up, ticking folders and files as you go. It’s not particularly sophisticated, but it does the job.
When it comes to managing your backups as well as restoring them, DiskImage has all the options you need. You can restore entire images or select individual files and folders, plus “mount” your image files in Windows, allowing you to browse them like any other attached drive.
DiskImage also allows you to convert drive images into virtual hard disks, allowing you to attach them to programs like VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation for using as virtual PCs. Advanced users will also be pleased to find DiskImage supports Machine Independent Restoration, allowing you to tweak backup images so they can be restored to different computers – a great way to migrate from an old PC to a new one.
Aside from the revamped user interface, Version 7 also debuts an option for creating a recovery disc without having to download additional files from the internet first. It’s also more capable of adapting to third-party energy settings, so your imaging isn’t scuppered by an over-zealous energy saving app, and it’s fully compatible with Windows 8. Finally, the program adds support for newer EFI/UEFI systems as well as the traditional BIOS-based computer.
While O&O DiskImage Professional remains a little too technical for complete beginners, the retooled user interface does make things a little simpler for anyone with a smidgeon of experience using drive-imaging apps, and the wealth of advanced functionality should continue to attract experts looking for a disk-imaging solution with a bit more oomph.