Tutorial

Mirroring, Imaging, Cloning: A Guide to Duplicating Your Data

Put as simply as possible: the key behind good backup is having an exact copy of your original file stored somewhere safe. That way, if something happens to the original, you can use the copy.

AcronisTrue Image 2021

While that simple concept is easy for most people to grasp when talking about a specific photo or document, many get confused when the same idea is proposed for their full computer. Yet mirroring software makes it easy to create a precise duplicate of your entire system, which is invaluable if your computer suffers a catastrophic crash.

With another backup solution announcing that it is eliminating mirror imaging from its software, it seems like a good time for us to review what their users will be missing.

disk cloning

What is a mirror image?

A full image backup, or mirror backup, is an exact replica of everything on your computer's hard drive, from the operating system, boot information, apps, and hidden files to your preferences and settings. Imaging software not only captures individual files, but everything you need to get your system running again.

By creating a full image backup, you are prepared to restore your system due to file errors or malware infections that can cripple your computer.

Using an external drive and Acronis True Image 2020, you can typically create an initial disk image in less than 90 minutes – while updates to that image can be made later in a matter of minutes. Such imaging software allows you to schedule frequent full image backups, so you capture new data or changes to your system on a regular basis.

Is a mirror image the same thing as a backup?

Not exactly, although some people will use those terms interchangeably.

Traditional backups, as we said, are copies of your data. If something happens to your laptop, having backups of your precious family photos, important work documents, music library, etc. keeps those files from being lost forever.

While those files are safe, you will still need to reinstall the operating system, reload all of programs you use, and reset every preferences to get your system working exactly the way you had it before.

That process is an annoying waste of time that can be avoided by creating a mirror backup. By regularly creating full image backups of your hard drive, you can instantly restore your system – preferences and all.

Acronis True Image 2020 gives you the flexibility to create a full image backup, to back up specific data files (such as partitions, folders, or individual files), or to schedule automatic backups of both types. You get the best of both worlds.

Is disk cloning the same thing?

Disk cloning does create an exact replica of your hard drive, but it is not the same as a mirror backup.

Mirror imaging software creates a single, compressed file that can be used for backup and disaster recovery purposes. If something happens to your system, you use the software to restore your system using that image file. You can schedule regular updates to that file to ensure you capture new data or file changes, and you can store multiple image backup files on a single drive.

Cloning a disk simply copies the contents of one hard drive to another hard drive. As a result, both the source and the target disk have exactly the same data. This function allows you to transfer all the information (including the operating system and installed programs) from a small hard disk drive to a large one without having to reinstall and reconfigure all of your software. But you can only create one clone on a disk, and it won’t capture changes to your data unless you make a new clone.

Because it is time consuming and offers little flexibility, disk cloning is usually a one-time operation that’s used to migrate data from one hard drive to another – like when you move your system to a new laptop. It’s not typically used as a backup strategy.

Storing your mirror image

When you need to restore your system, you want the backup to be reliable and the recovery to be fast. Where you store the backup can affect both of those characteristics.

Backing up to your computer’s hard drive might be fast and convenient, but it will be useless if the disk fails. Storing a local copy on an external hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) will provide a buffer from machine failure.

Keeping a local copy is good, but a natural disaster like a fire or flood could compromise both the original machine and the local backup. Having a copy stored somewhere off-site, as recommended in the 3-2-1 backup rule, ensures your data is safe even if you lose your home. The cloud is a convenient place to keep an off-site copy.

Thankfully, a subscription to Acronis True Image 2020 comes with cloud storage included. Not only can you schedule your backups to be created in the cloud automatically, you can recover your system directly from your cloud backup.

Advantages of Acronis True Image 2020

Acronis True Image 2020 is the best full image backup software for home users. Whether you use Windows and Mac, it gives you the power to:

  • Schedule automatic backups, including differential or incremental images that only capture the data changes that have occurred since the last backup.
  • Copy, format, partition, or delete hard drive images.
  • Restore your entire system, including individual files, and applications.
  • Assign a drive letter to an image so you can open it at any time to access copied files, folders, and applications.

Make sure you protect everything you need to restore your system, including boot information, applications, settings, and hidden files. By creating a full image backup, you’ll have all of the changes to your files, programs and preferences that have been added since the hard disk was set up … and the incremental approach requires less time than duplicating the entire source drive.

In addition, if you want the ability to create a clone, Acronis True Image 2020’s disk cloning functions can do things that other solutions cannot, such as the ability to clone a Windows system while it is in use. There’s no need to stop what you’re doing, shut down Windows, and restart your computer using boot media. Unlike other disk cloning software, you can create a clone directly on your USB external drive or local drive while still using the computer.

With Acronis True Image 2020, you have the easiest, most reliable and secure imaging software available ... and we won’t abandon smart data protection strategies like our competitors.

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