With file-level backups, you backup and restore files such as Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photographs, videos, and audio files. Many users think that just backing up these kinds of files is all they need. While file-level backups work if you are restoring a small number of files, it is a time-consuming task to restore an entire PC or Mac.
When it comes to backup, you have two options:
- Back up the individual files that you store on your computer OR
- Backup a snapshot or image of the entire system or disk
Let’s compare and contrast the two options
In addition to the files, photos, movies, and videos you store on your computer, you also have other important information stored there too. This includes your operating system, applications, browser history, preferences, settings, bookmarks, device drivers, etc. If you lose these files, worst case is that your computer will not start. Best case is that you will spend time re-creating information.
With disk image backups, the software takes an image of the entire hard disk. This lets you restore the entire system to another computer, including the operating system, applications, browser history, preferences, settings, bookmarks, device drivers, and all of the files you created and downloaded. Image backups let you restore the whole system and/or get back to a previous state fast.
Disk image backups also let you backup everything and restore only what you need. For example, let’s assume that you buy a new PC and Windows and Microsoft Office applications are already loaded on the computer. You do not need to restore the entire disk image backup to your new computer. The good news is that with disk image backup, you can choose to restore only selected files and folders and not the entire system.
Alternatively, you also have the ability to restore to bare metal; that is, restore everything on your computer to a new computer that has an empty disk. This is especially helpful in cases where your original computer is destroyed, stolen, or lost.