Imaging software allows computer users can take an image of their hard drive in its current state, so it can be backed up if the hard drive crashes. Although the hard drive itself contains a wide store of memory, the imaging software should make only a small image, taking up minimal disk space and allowing room for other files. Network-based programs, which can restore several computers at once, are good for widespread crashes. Along with creating a backup of the hard drive, the imaging program should be able to erase personal information if the computer or hard drive is ever sold. Programs with simple interfaces and automated backups can ensure there is always a current backup ready.
The hard drive contains all the memory stored on a computer, which might lead one to think that imaging software would need a large memory footprint to create a disk image, but this not always true. Small-footprint programs, which use minimal memory for the image, exist and often are preferable to larger-footprint programs. The smaller footprint leaves more room in the hard drive for other files, and the backup process itself will take less time.
Some users only need imaging software for one computer but, more often, network administrators require this program. A network-based program will allow the administrator to create a backup file and actually perform the backup on several computers at once. This means an entire network can be running again in hours, not days.
The most popular function of imaging software is its ability to make an image of the hard drive, but it also can erase information. Many users and administrators leave personal information on computers and, while all the files and documents can be erased, a little cache on the hard drive will store a piece of this information. A skilled person can look through this cache and find personal information that can lead to identity theft or other problems, so the best imaging software program should be able to erase this information.
Easy-to-use imaging software with automated backups will ensure users know how to make proper backups, and that there will always be a recent backup image available. Many imaging programs have complex instructions that will be difficult to understand, except by technically skilled users. If the program is easy to use, then users can painlessly make a backup. Automated backups will be able to make a backup every hour, day or week, depending on its setting; this ensures that even forgetful users will still have a backup ready.