The Difference Between File Backup and Image Backup

A comprehensive, consistent backup schedule is a key aspect of a successful disaster recovery plan for businesses of all sizes. If your company’s hardware fails or a cyber attack occurs, you’ll suffer fewer headaches if your data is backed up and ready to be restored. While you might already recognize the significance of this plan, you might not realize that you have a couple of options in how that backup is done. The two main procedures for backing up data is file backup and image backup. What are the differences between the two?

File and Image Backup

Learn the difference between a file and image backup, which are critical parts of a disaster recovery plan.

File Backup

In this kind of setup, the file or folder is the smallest unit of data able to be backed up. Businesses use this method to restore particular files or folders to an otherwise healthy system. As a selective backup option, the business selects which pieces of data need to be backed up and only backs up those files. This procedure does have its advantages: the total size of the backup is smaller, requires less capacity, and costs less overall. However, the drawbacks are significant: in the event of a disaster, restoring the data can take a long time since you have to start from scratch. This would entail reinstalling the OS, all of your software applications, the software that used to backup the files and folders, then finally the files and folders themselves. Any files and folders you chose not to backup would be lost forever.

Image Backup

An image backup is a more complete option for businesses and is highly recommended as part of your disaster recovery and cybersecurity plans. This backup option is a full hard drive disk image that comprises the bit by bit contents of that hard drive. This includes not only files and folders, but also operating system(s), software applications, application data, settings, patches – everything. When disaster strikes, the entire data set is preserved and can be transferred to new hardware easily. As far as drawbacks go, it does take up more storage capacity than a simple file backup. In addition, if you were looking to store your image backup on the cloud, you would also need the bandwidth capability to transfer the large image to the cloud. Nevertheless, this procedure provides a complete data backup solution for businesses and restores systems more quickly, leading to a quicker turnaround time and a smaller loss in productivity in the event of a disaster.


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