No matter how much data you deal with on a daily basis, regular backups are critical. With more than one way to back up your data, though, how do you decide the best method? Here's what you need to know about image-based backup.

Image Backup Basics
This backup method differs from others in that you make a copy, or an image, of your computer or virtual machine's hard drive. This image includes your operating system and all of its data in one file, saved as a mirror image of the original. It's possible and recommended to save this mirror image as an online data backup so that all of your important data is stored safely in the cloud. Although this method can lead to growing storage quantities and fees, it's considered best practice to store backups at both on- and off-site locations.

Benefits of Image-Based Backup
Even though creating an image backup may take a while, a total system reinstall is a breeze. On the rare occasion that your system fails, reinstalling your files is easy. With an image backup, you can quickly reinstall your operating system and all of your files instead of installing files or applications one at a time. This process can help you eliminate downtime, which is increasingly critical in every industry.

Image Backup vs. File Backup
As an alternative to creating a single backup file that covers an entire machine and its related data, a file backup saves each folder or file individually. This process typically requires user input, as a file backup includes only selected files and folders instead of each element on a machine. Selecting these files carefully is important, as any part that isn't included in a file backup isn't retrievable in the case of a system failure. Backed-up files are restored one at a time, so attempting a total system restoration with this backup method takes much more time.

When to Rely on an Image-Based Backup System
Since the image-based backup method produces a single element created in one pass, you may be wondering if this method is reliable. Since this method provides a complete package that either a business or an individual can use to restore massive quantities of data, image-based backup is both reliable and recommended. Even though the cost of storing such a large amount of data in the cloud or an off-site location can increase, it's important to keep this type of backup.

Although an image-based backup is reliable, many experts recommend simultaneously pursuing both image and file backups. Having both allows you to restore all of your data in a catastrophic situation or files and folders in an isolated situation. Although many IT professionals plan for disaster recovery, many situations they encounter regularly require recovery of a single file or application. Backing up data both ways allows the best possible outcome in any data loss situation.

For a comprehensive and reliable backup plan, consider all the angles and be ready for any data loss situations. File backup offers good isolated recovery options, while image-based backup provides the best overall solution for total data recovery.

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