Its a pain to re-install Windows operating system followed by drivers, updates and other third party software every time your PC stops working due to malware infection, hard disk failure, files corruptions and more. This is why it is a good idea to make a backup of your entire hard disk into a hard disk image immediately after you have installed Windows, updates, drivers and basic third-party software. This way you can restore the entire hard disk to its previous “fresh Windows installation” state whenever you face problems like disk corruption etc. If you do not want to waste money on costly software to create hard disk images, then you can use the open-source and free software ODIN (Open Disk Imager in a Nutshell).
The ODIN software is a very small and portable program that works on all the versions of Windows including both the 32-bit and 64-bit editions. It creates the backup of the disk by reading the binary data on the blocks, therefore it works with all types of partitions. It is also able to compress the disk images using gzip or bzip2 compression and split the image into smaller chunks to fit them on the target storage media.
In order to make the backup, you can select the Backup option and then you have to select one of the source partitions from the list, choose the target image file and then click on the Start button. The creation of the disk image may take a long time for larger hard disks.
You may want to set the options for disk image creation by clicking on the Options button before you start the backup. In the window that opens up, you can choose to save only the used blocks (recommended) or save all the blocks, store the image into different chunks or in a single file, and use the compression to reduce the size of the disk image.
The restoring of the data from the disk images works in a similar manner. You have to select the Restore option from the top, choose a destination partition from the list (be very careful in choosing the correct partition), select the disk image file and then click on the Start button. Just like with disk image creation (backup), the restore process may take a long time.
Conclusion: ODIN can help you create a backup your disks into disk images and later restore the data from them. It is portable, can use multi-core processors and works on all the versions of Windows. You can depend on this open-source software for all your hard disk imaging needs.
You can download Open Disk Imager in a Nutshell (ODIN) from http://odin-win.sourceforge.net/.