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Disk Imaging Question / Story Time

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Golden Member
Nov 18, 2011
I've got a couple questions, but first it's story time! So every now and then I like to reformat and reinstall windows. I do this more often than a lot of people, on average once a month, but I have let it go as far as 3 months in the past. I have always simply reinstalled windows and re downloaded all of my apps and games. For me, this isn't a huge issue as I have gigabit internet and I generally can download my main games at around 50-90mbps. Well, I ran into the oddest issue I have ever seen in my 20 years of computer experience. I installed a new copy of windows and it was extremely sluggish. After fiddling around with things for a bit, I realized that I was an idiot haha. I did a bios update, RIGHT before installing windows. I always stay on top of the latest firmware and bios updates. Well, when doing so, I didn't enable ahci. I also had some slight confusion on IRST vs AHCI and the consensus I reached was if you aren't doing anything in raid, don't install IRST and stick with AHCI. Well I swapped over to ahci, couldn't boot into windows so I had to spend 15 minutes reinstalling windows again. Not a big deal. This time around, windows was still sluggish but it wasn't a big deal. What was extremely annoying however, was that no matter what I did, I could not get gigabytes new xtreme engine software to work. Aka I couldn't change the rgb lighting on my gtx 1080. This wasn't a huge deal, but I had nothing better to do today so I said screw it and formatted again. This time around I decided to use a different version of windows as the other one was running extremely sluggish. I used windows 10 pro from october 2017 without the creators update. After this install I ran into another extremely weird issue. During my realtek audio driver install (which I installed 3 times prior without any issues) it simply wouldn't install. I watched like 3 tv shows, aka 2 1/2hrs of waiting and no luck. Luckily I was able to fix this with a little bit of tweaking. Also, luckily enough, this version of windows (which I generally use) is running perfectly. I just figured I would originally try my newer copy from December which includes the fall creators update. Regardless, I realized that it's finally time to hop on the disk imaging band wagon. I've never used any type of disk imaging software before. As I said above, I've always just reinstalled windows and re downloaded all of my apps and games. So my two questions to you guys are the following. What is the best software to use for imaging (doesn't matter if it's expensive software or free)? Last question might sound dumb, but I honestly have no idea. When imaging a disk, does it image the ENTIRE disk, aka even the free space? For example I have a 512gb ssd. I'm only using 138gb currently. Would I need a drive larger than 512gb to back up to? Or would I only need 138gb of free space on a drive? My idea was to back it up twice, once to my hard drive and once to my second ssd. However, if it backs up the ENTIRE disk, including free space, I guess I won't be able to do it as my main drive, which is a samsung 850 pro 512gb is the largest disk I have. My hard drive is an extremely old 500gb drive and my old ssd is a crucial drive that is 256gb.

TL DR What is the best imaging software? When imaging a drive does it backup the ENTIRE drive including free space or does it just copy what has been used? Aka would a 512gb ssd imaged be 512gb in size, or would it only be what was used, in my case 138gb's.

Edit: On a side note, I am really glad I haven't imaged this drive yet. I just opened up task manager and realized I can't see my GPU on there...which means the creator update hasn't installed yet. I've ran the update checker several times and it still hasn't shown up yet. Hopefully it does soon, as I enjoy using that feature.
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No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
fastamdman, please, no walls-o-text. Our members deserve better. Please format the post with paragraphs for easier reading.Locking this. - Moderator VirtualLarry
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