Yes. Hence, for example, a clone that is directly usable on another computer (of the same architecture) or on the same computer.
So you have three options.
- Image the entire drive.
- Image all the files on the drive.
- Copy only modified files.
They each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
The upside of the first option is that the total amount of time to do the backup is quite consistent. It nearly always would take longer than either of the other two options but is consistently slow.
Another upside of the first option is that it works without regard to what technology is used to represent the partitions on the drive and what type of file system is on the partition(s).
A complication is how encryption interacts with your backup methodology. Let’s suppose that your root file system is encrypted. If you use
dd then you can backup without entering the decryption key (without even knowing it) and the backup copy is not a security risk (it is no more and no less penetrable than the original). However if one of the reasons to do backup is in case you forget or lose your encryption key then the backup is then useless for that purpose. By contrast, if you backup the decrypted contents of a disk then the backup copy becomes a security risk. You need to protect the backup copy in some way.
You can partially mitigate the issue of backing up the entire disk by piping
gzip. So you read the entire disk but often would not have to write the entire disk to the backup medium (because if most of the disk is ‘empty’, it will compress down to almost nothing). The downside of that is that you lose the ability to have a directly usable clone. If you needed to actually use a clone then you would have to restore it to a disk first. Again, there are interactions with encryption.
dd to backup my x86 computers and
dd | gzip to backup my ARM computers (including the Librem 5).
PS You can probably disregard my previous reply because I completely misunderstood the distinction that you were making. (Perhaps the Duplicity documentation covers the answer to your question.)