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What is the purpose of image backup?

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Anthony Jackson

Among the most common reasons for data loss are hardware failure, human error and natural disasters. The best way to secure your data from a potential site disaster is to store your data backup offsite. Most of the files can be restored by a skilled network administrator, but data loss related to hardware failure can never be foreseen and it is this kind of data loss that can cause severe consequences to business continuity.

It is often said that the cost of data loss is hard to calculate, but it is directly proportional to the value of data and the period of time that the data is unavailable. These factors can result in financial loss and a tarnished business reputation. This is where image backup comes in, allowing businesses complete protection, no matter what.

What is image backup?

In essence, the backup software takes a snapshot of the hard drive as a whole, making it relatively easy to fully reconstruct the lost drive in the event of a restore.

The image (where the name comes from, in early days referred to as clone) contains everything on a computer/server and replicates all the data in a ready-to-go format, enabling users to reinstall the data and settings onto another machine.

Image backups simplify data protection, since users do not have to worry about not selecting certain files or updating the list of backup directories if new software is installed.

The advantages of image backup

There are multiple advantages of using image backup for your business. Here are a few:

In case of a hard drive failure, a backup image can actually be mounted as a virtual drive and can be used as a regular physical drive.

Another use of an image-based backup is while performing a bare-metal recovery, a technique that is used to quickly recover an unusable system. It can restore both system and data in a single pass, eliminating the need for multiple backups, thus significantly reducing downtime.

For such restoration the image includes the necessary operating system, applications and data components to rebuild or restore the backed up system to an entirely separate piece of hardware. Image-based backup of servers or server imaging is an essential ingredient in a disaster recovery solution.

Summary of image backup advantages:

  • Allows for extremely fast full system restores including the operating system on the same or different hardware.
  • Unsurpassed speed and simplicity when working with large numbers of files.
  • Most image formats can be mounted and used like any other drive, making the accessing of backed up files user friendly.
  • Performing image backups requires far less resources that file backups.
  • Images are highly compressed and use storage relatively efficiently.

Things to consider regarding image backup

Image backups, like any other backups can function on physical, virtual or combined environments. It would be wrong to consider image backup as a solution only for virtual systems.

When it comes to size most modern image backup applications have the ability to interpret the data being copied and remove or compress the empty blocks on a disk, which leads to much smaller image files. This must be taken into context given that the fact that ALL data from the server is included in the image, the files are going to be quite large, even with the compression.

The majority of programs also create image formats that can be mounted and explored making it possible to retrieve individual files.  Imaging products often support creation of successive incremental or differential image backups which further reduce the demands on storage.

Offsite image backup

Due to the size of backup images, this backup method was considered unpractical for remote backups, and was often kept on removable media offsite, but not transported via the Internet.

Fortunately, image backups have evolved past  these limitations and solutions such as Shadow Protect, Dell’s AppAssure and similar, have built in features that enable image size reduction, automated offsite transmission and even consolidation of backup image files.

These and other features of new image backup solutions empowered backup providers, like LiveBackup, to offer Australian businesses image backups that not only reduce system and data recovery, but also reduce the storage demands and offer offsite storage as well as remote recovery.


Another circumstance working in favour of image backup is the fact that the price of storage has been decreasing over time. This means that providers such as LiveBackup can now provide their customers with highly reliable backup storage locations, at more than reasonable prices.

High reliability and ultimate speed of restoration

Combining highly reliable offsite backup storage in fully certified data centres with built in features for verifying the state of backup images LiveBackup offers the ultimate solution for service providers and enterprise grade customers.

No matter what happens, image backup provides a peace of mind offering minimal downtime even in the unlikely event of a catastrophic site disaster.

This image backup solution can be a standalone backup or it can be successfully complemented with file base backup.

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About Anthony Jackson

Anthony Jackson
Anthony truly involves himself with his customers in order to understand their needs. With his drive to achieve successful outcomes when facing challenges and passion about IT, Anthony brings endless commitment to the table. Anthony grew up in South East Asia and travelled extensively from an early age. He received a diploma in Business Marketing (Communications) at Mt Gravatt TAFE.