A disk image is a single file or storage device containing the complete contents and structure representing a data storage medium or device, such as a hard drive, tape drive, floppy disk, optical disc, or USB flash drive. A disk image is usually created by creating a complete sector-by-sector copy of the source medium and thereby perfectly replicating the structure and contents of a storage device.
Some disk imaging utilities omit unused file space from source media, or compress the disk they represent to reduce storage requirements, though these are typically referred to as archive files, as they are not literally disk images.
Disk image file formats may be open standards, such as the ISO image format for optical disc images, or proprietary to particular software applications.
A tape image is an image of the contents of a computer's magnetic tape. Image files derived from magnetic tape data storage are known as tape images.