Many different vendors are able to provide imaging capacity to assist with backup and disaster recovery. The majority of these vendors, however, have adopted an imaging system based on hard drive sectors. In this system, the imaging software takes a snapshot of the hard drive, sector by sector. While this does produce a complete record, little attention is paid to the content of those sectors.
Microsoft's system for imaging, which is implemented through the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and tools known as a ‘Lite Touch Installation’, takes a different approach. Instead of producing an image based on a sector, LTI images are file-based. Using a .WIM file extension, each image faithfully captures the contents of an individual file; contents that can, of course, be spread across many different sectors of the hard media storage system in use.
File-based imaging creates a level of flexibility that is not possible with sector-based images. Because each image records a single file, that file can be subjected to modifications via the image as needed. While sector-based imaging is a faster technology, file-based imaging allows records to be more readily maintained and kept up to date as hot fixes and service packs are issued. This is because the file image itself can be updated. In a sector-based system, updates would have to be deployed to a physical computer first and a new image captured in order to keep the backup up to date.
File based imaging is one of several powerful IT solutions that managed programs staff can use to create and maintain full backups of company systems and data.