What Does It Mean to Reimage a Hard Drive?

By Larry Amon

You may have heard the term "reimage the drive" and didn't quite understand what it meant. Reimaging a drive can be done quite simply and quickly, but it is a very serious and destructive process to any data on the computer. Before a drive is reimaged, you should understand exactly what will happen.


Reimaging is done when a computer has too many problems to troubleshoot in a timely manner. Reimaging is done to reset the drive back to the original specifications.


To reimage a hard drive, an image of the hard drive, that likely has the operating system and all basic programs installed, is copied on to the hard drive. This removes the current data and sets the drive back to a freshly installed state.


Reimaging generally means to use a saved image to replace the current OS and all data, but it can loosely be referred to as formatting the drive and starting over.


Ghost has been a popular program that many use to make images and reimage hard drives. Ghost can reimage many hard drives at once over a network. Ghost makes one large compressed file image of a hard drive that is selected, and it can be saved indefinitely for later use.

Data Loss

When reimaging a hard drive, everything is lost on the hard drive. All personal data and programs will be gone with nothing saved. Personal data should be backed up before reimaging.