How to Image a Hard Drive

by Daniel Barrows

If you wish to generate a backup of the data stored on one of your hard drives, one of the more convenient solutions is to create an image file. Image files are direct copies of all the data contained on the target drive, often compressed in order to conserve disk space. Once you have an image file generated, you can then retrieve individual files from it whenever necessary, or extract all the stored data onto a different drive.

Download the DriveImage XML installation program (see Resources below for a link); save the program to an easily-accessible location. Open the program and follow the onscreen instructions; if possible, install the application on a drive other than the one you wish to image. Delete the installation program after use.

Open the DriveImage XML application. Examine the application window and click on the Backup button in the lower-left corner.

Select the drive you wish to create an image of from the list of available options. Click the button labeled "Next;" when the welcome screen appears, click "Next" again.

Select the destination for your image file and enter it in the field labeled "Directory." Uncheck the box labeled "Split Large Files." Click on the radio button labeled "Try Volume Services first." Click on the button labeled "Next."

Wait for the application to finish generating the image file before proceeding (depending on the size of the drive you are imaging, this may take several hours). Click on the button labeled "Finish." The image generation process is now complete.


  • check You can retrieve individual files from your image without restoring the entire drive. Open the DriveImage XML application and click on the button labeled "Browse." Select your image file and click "Open;" you may now browse a directory listing of everything stored in the image and extract the desired file. If you wish to generate an image file for storage on a set of CDs or DVDs, check the box labeled "Split Large Files;" this will break the image file into segments small enough to copy onto removable media. There is an option labeled "Compressed" in the "Backup" window; selecting this option will generate a smaller image file, but the process will take more time to complete. The "Raw Mode" option in the "Backup" window will create an exact copy of the drive you are imaging, including duplication of any unused space.

About the Author

Daniel Barrows has been working as a freelance writer for businesses in the Southern California area for over two years. He has also published articles online for websites like and He has received a Bachelors of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

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