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I want to make full disk images of different computers that I could later restore if something goes wrong. Also, being able to mount the image/access the backed up files would be really useful.

What are my options?

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Exact duplicate of What software can be used to create a restorable drive image?. – Lekensteyn Feb 14 '11 at 21:01
I was hoping to find out if there was something that produced mountable images for me – Florian Heinle Feb 14 '11 at 21:16
Do you just want the iso format, or do you primarily want to back up to physical cd,s/dvd,s? – djeikyb Feb 14 '11 at 21:34
I would be saving to an external usb hard disk. I said "image" because I want to save the exact state of the system, so I could do a complete restore. – Florian Heinle Feb 14 '11 at 21:39

To make the image you will probably want to use Partimage

So that the image is consistent, you will want to make sure the disk is offline when you make the image.

I have transformed Partimage images into virtual drives for VirtualBox. It appears that you can also Mount a partimage file as a loopback device, but I haven't tried that myself.

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The only downside I see is this limitation, which might not bother you too much: "Single files or directories cannot be restored. Although the backup could be restored to an temporary/alternate partition and single files or directories could be recovered from the alternate partition." – djeikyb Feb 14 '11 at 21:50
There are some ways to get at the contents of the image without restoring it to a physical drive. I've updated the answer with what I know. – jwernerny Feb 15 '11 at 15:38

Bacula is a free-as-in-speech linux backup program that allows bare metal and single file recovery. Also in its favour is it doesn't require an offline system to get a full system backup. It's a bit of a pain to set up, but the end result should be pretty sweet. The backup format is open source but Bacula specific. You need Bacula to access your backup.

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