June 4 2012,
There are many wrong things which can happen to your computer — virus attack wiping out data, incompatible software installation affecting the work of other programs or a malfunctioning hard drive.
There are many ways to avoid those problems, but no matter what you do, you have to consider an ultimate protection strategy of having a backup of your working system. This can be used to restore your computer to an earlier, working, condition.
The most straightforward way of making a backup is to simply copy your files to a safe location and keep updating your spare copy when your data changes. It is perfectly fine when you want to keep a copy of your collection of photos or music but it becomes too simplistic and time consuming when you need to take care of multiple files / folders scattered around the hard drive.
A file backup software, one of which is embedded into Windows, can solve the problem with automating the process of making a backup and keeping it up to date. One problem which file backup software does not solve is that it cannot transfer the complete system to a backup and restore it later on. It works on a file basis but leaves behind the system areas on the disk which are vital to the system. Thus, it mostly suited for making a reserve copy of user data but not Windows itself.
As opposed to file backup, a disk backup (or disk image) software works on a lower level, making a reserve copy of all data on the hard drive including those system areas not presented as files. It treats a logical hard drive as a whole and when you back up disk C:, all of its contents, including Windows installation, is stored into the backup image. So, when thinking of protecting your computer from possible disaster, that's the type of software you should think of.
At first it looks like an obvious question, but many people start thinking about backup only when their computer problems start getting out of control.
"My computer is getting older, there are not so much space left and it's slowing down each day – maybe I should get a backup".
That is typical of what I hear. Wrong! What are you going to have in the backup image when you make it at such a late stage?/p>
An exact replica of what you already have — a hardly working system full of bloat ware and pretty slow. It's a little bit too late for a backup. You should think about it not when you notice that your system is degrading but when it's first setup and in perfect condition.
Then you have to make a reserve copy containing an image of a system in good shape and if necessary you can always return to the same state (a good one, not a bad).