Back up a Windows 10 system image

Windows 10 is probably the most stable and usable operating system Microsoft has released since Windows 7. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into serious problems at some point. I always make sure to make a full system image of my Windows 10 PC every few months.

When you create a system image, you can restore the entire operating system to the same hard drive or a new one and it will contain all your installed programs, settings, etc. While Windows 10 is a nice improvement over Windows 7, it still uses the same Windows 7 image creation option! Windows 10 has a new feature called Reset this PC, but it’s not as versatile as a system image backup.

You can choose to keep your personal files or delete everything, but either way you will lose all your programs and apps. In addition, it is assumed that the current hard drive is still working properly. If the drive fails completely, you’re out of luck because you won’t be able to access the Reset this PC feature.

It’s always a nice option to have, but you should have a full system image that you can restore regardless of the state of Windows or your hard drive.

Create Windows 10 System Image

Many people like to use third-party software for this and it is completely understandable. I actually wrote an article about five free disk image tools they do a great job. These third-party programs usually have more options than the built-in Windows tool.

I personally create multiple system images with different tools as I have found that sometimes problems can arise when restoring from backup for various reasons. Now on to creating the system image! First, open the Control Panel in Windows 10. From now on, if you go to Backup in the Settings app, it just links to the Control Panel option.

click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7)† Make sure to change the view to Small or large icons to see the list of items.

There are now two ways you can back up here. You can either click on the Create a system image link on the left and make a one-time system-wide backup or click set up backup on the far right (not shown in picture), which creates a system image and performs a scheduled backup of important files on your computer.

I recommend using the . to use set up backup option, as it allows you to recover individual files in case of accidental deletion. However, you should only do this if the backup location is on a separate drive on your computer. There is no point in backing up to another partition on the same hard drive. I only make a system image because all my files are stored in the cloud anyway, so it depends on your situation.

If you are on . click Create a system image, you will be asked where you want to save the backup image. There are three options: on a hard drive, on one or more DVDs or on a network location. In my case, I chose a different drive installed on my system.

Next, you need to select which drives you want to back up. By default, Windows selects the system partition, recovery partition, and EFI system partition. You can add additional drives if desired.

At the bottom is how much space is needed for the backups and how much space is still available on the target disk. Finally, you will see a summary and you can start the backup by clicking . to click Start backup

The backup process will take some time depending on how much data is to be backed up and how fast your target drive is.

Once the backup is complete, you will be asked if you want to create a system repair disc. I strongly recommend that you do this immediately as you will need it to restore the PC in case something goes wrong.

You can always make it later, but it’s a risk. Once you’ve created the backup, you won’t see it in the backup and restore dialog box, because it’s just a system image. However, if you go to the backup location, you will see a folder called WindowsImageBackup.

Note that you cannot access the contents of this folder or even check its size, etc. It is system property and cannot be read or opened by any user, not even the administrator. Now that you have one backup of your system, you should create another using a different tool just to be safe. Enjoying!

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