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When creating a backup image of a partition, will the image always have the same size as the partition, even when the partition is not fully occupied? Therefore will I have to find a storage device with size no less than the partition to store the image?

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This is not always the case. Most backup systems today will have built in compression methods that will greatly reduce the size of images. More advanced solutions will also provide de-dupe functionality to avoid wasting space on duplicate files.

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