The world of backup and recovery solutions is quite extensive and complicated. There are a lot of different solutions available, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. One of such types of backup and disaster recovery solutions is called bare metal backup and recovery.
Bare metal backup is a process of backing up your entire system’s data, and it’s not just user data and settings - the entire system, including drivers, programs, information structure, even the OS itself.
There are quite a lot of advantages of such a method - that’s why currently more traditional file backup solutions are being slowly replaced with newer types of solutions, like bare metal backup.
The other half of this solution type is bare metal restore (it’s called bare metal recovery, too). This one implies the process of recovering all of the backed up data to completely new “bare” hardware, with all the settings, drivers and other things like OS completely intact.
Some of the biggest advantages of this solution type are: speed, easiness, safety, etc.
For example, bare metal recovery can be comparitively fast - since there’s no requirement to restore a particular piece of data, and the process is actually restoring everything; from drivers and registry, to desktop icon layout, with no need to install all the drivers and programs from scratch.
Some easiness results from that, too - there’s no need to spend your time setting up a new computer with all of the software you’ll need, you can instead just use bare metal recovery and restore everything within one simple operation.
One more advantage of this solution is the overall safety - if your system is infected with something (virus, ransomware, etc), using bare metal restore would allow you to get rid of everything that could’ve caused that infection to begin with, including infected files, backdoors and other potential threats to your system.
Normally, the process of restoring a system using a bare metal recovery method implies that you have either a bootable USB flash drive (with said backup already stored there) or just an ISO image file in general. This part is required for the “bare” system to recognize the image and start the process in general.
The biggest caveat of this backup and restore solution is the need to have an exact same hardware configuration on the system that the backup is taken from and the “bare metal” system that’ll be recovered from said backup.
When it comes to system hardware in the context of bare metal recovery, there are two main groups of hardware parts: boot-critical devices and other devices.
Some parts of the system can be different when performing a bare metal restore, like a sound card, a capture card or a graphic card, since they are not part of the boot process and the system can load itself without them (even if with some problems). This “group” implies that, if necessary, you can install drivers for such devices after a bare metal restore process is done and the system is up and running.
Boot-critical devices are an entirely different thing. Hardware parts like CPU, HDD controller or motherboard need to be the same for both systems in order for the drivers to match and for the system itself to boot properly. Inability to match those parts would not allow the system to boot.