Should I make a disk image file?

A disk image file - an exact copy of all the disk content - is the first thing that a data recovery lab makes. When recovering data at home it is often not reasonable to create a disk image file.

Having the disk image file stored aside makes recovery more safe. If the fix gets wrong, the image file provides the backup to try again. If the disk is physically damaged, a disk image file allows you to perform the recovery independent of the mechanical conditions. Almost any data recovery software can create a disk image file and in most cases to load a disk image file that was created by another tool.

The significant disadvantage is that creating a disk image file takes a long time and requires a lot of free disk space.

When using read only data recovery software given that the drive is physically OK, the risk of further data damage is negligible. Read only recovery itself requires free space at least equal to the size of the data being recovered; if a disk image file is used, you should have free space for this image as well - and may even need to buy a new large hard drive.

Thus, it might be reasonable to attempt a recovery without creating a disk image first.

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