Backup: Image Level vs File Level

When it comes to backing up your server or workstations you have a couple of options. You can choose between a file level backup & disaster recovery or an image level backup but how do you choose? The file level option will back up individual files, folders or storage volumes such as the hard drives in your machine. Image level will take a snapshot of your computer at a given point in time.

Just like the image above – a picture is taken of the computer (files, folders, settings – EVERYTHING) at a single point in time. This would allow every bit of data on the machine to be saved at once. Each type of backup has their associated benefits and drawbacks. File level would take less storage space overall when compared to an image level as you choose what files and folders you would like to include in your backup jobs. You would also need less overall storage capacity for retaining the data. In most cases, the image level job sizes would be greater as you take all of the data on the machine from configuration of the system down to individual files. However, with a technology called deduplication – once an initial image is taken every subsequent backup job is just a list of changes. So while the first image backup may be really large each following backup will be relatively small depending on the amount of data that has changed. In the event of a disaster, image level backups would be ideal for restoring your machines and getting back to business. They are much faster to restore because you can put a new hard drive into your machine and restore it entirely from the image – as if you put the exact same hard drive back into the computer. Restoring from file level backups would require you reload a hard with the operating system, reconfigure it with all your settings, then copy the files into the computer manually. If getting your business back up and running quickly is a concern, image level backup would be the preferred method. While it takes up more storage space and might cost a bit more money in the short term for extra storage – the speed of restore will almost always save you money since there will be less downtime. For more information on our Backup & Disaster Recovery Solutions check out our BDR page 

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