How to create a System Image Backup in Windows

thumb__ackup_and__estore-2The Windows built-in backup utilities are pretty solid. In this blog post I will show you how to create a full backup image of your PC without the need for a third party utility like Acronis True Image.

Third party backup programs, like CrashPlan or Windows built-in File History feature, essentially copy your files to another location. A system image backup is a full snapshot of your entire harddisk. The advantage of a system image is that if a hard drive crashes, you can replace it, restore the image, and have your system right back to where it was when the image was captured.

different PC. You’re creating an image of your full Windows installation and, since Windows is set up specifically for your hardware, it just won’t work on a other PC.

Third-party apps like like Acronis True Image do offer some advanced features you won’t find in the Windows system image backup tool. For example, Acronis True Image support incremental backups, password protected images, and the ability to browse backups for individual files. But the built-in Backup and Restore is free, and if you don’t need the extra features, the Windows tool offers a solid way to perform a full backup of your system.

Open Backup and Restore in Windows 10

The process of finding the System Image Backup tool is different in Windows 7 than in Windows 8 and 10. In this blog post I’ll focus just on Windows 10.

In Windows 10, hit Start, type “control,” and then select the entry Control Panel. In the Control Panel, click on “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)“.

In the “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” window, click “Create a system image.”

When you first open the tool, it will scan your system for external drives. You can then decide where you want to save the image. It can be to an external drive, multiple DVD’s, or on a network location. Select where you want to save your backup and then click Next.

By default, the tool only backs up your system drive. You can include other drives if you want, but remember that this will add to the size of the final image. Typically, we like to create separate image backups for each drive.

At the confirmation screen, notice the amount of space the image may take. If anything doesn’t look right, you can still go back and make adjustments. If everything looks okay, click the “Start Backup” button.

You’ll see a progress meter as the tool creates the image.

The backup process can take a while if backed up to an external hard disk connected to our PC via USB. Your time will vary depending on your PC and the type of storage to which you’re backing up.

See also: How to create a System Repair Disc in Windows

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