Back Up Your Windows System

If you are planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or if you just realize you need a full backup of your computer, here is how to accomplish that, with a system image. The best time to create an image is when the system is freshly cleaned, and has your necessary (and desired) programs installed and everything is working properly. An image file, when restored, will put your computer into exactly the condition it was in when the image was made.


While the imaging process is the same in Windows 7 as in Windows 8.x, the location of the software is not.

Windows 7 System Image Backup

In Windows 7, click Start (the button in the lower left corner, when the taskbar is on the bottom of the screen) and select Back up your files. On the screen that comes up, there is a link on the left side, in the bar, that says Create a system image – click on it.

Windows 8.x System Image Backup

In Windows 8.1 (it is recommended that you upgrade at least to 8.1, if you are still using Windows 8 – it is free to upgrade and there are fixes), the system image link is under File History, which you can find by searching in the Search box on the main Start screen. Once you click on File History, look in the lower left corner of the screen that results (which may take time to load), and click on System Image Backup.

Creating the System Image Backup

Both versions of Windows use the same method to create the image. You can choose an external hard drive, DVDs, or another computer on your network, if available. Once you have selected the location for your image, determine which hard drives you are going to back up. More drives will result in a larger image file; it may be best, if you have multiple drives, to image each one separately. It will then ask you to confirm your choices. Notice the space needed for the image. You can still go back and make changes, if necessary, at this point.

When you continue, you will see a bar that will indicate the progress of the backup. How long it takes will depend on the quantity of data, the media on which you are backing up, and your system.

Once the bar reaches 100%, you will be prompted to choose whether to create a system repair disc. You should do this, and store it securely.

If it becomes necessary or desirable to restore the image, this is done through the System Recovery Options.

Creating an Image in Windows Vista

If you are running Vista Home or Home Premium, Windows does not give you the option to create an image. You would have to procure a third-party program to create an image for one of these operating systems.

If you are running Vista Ultimate, Business, or Enterprise, it is similar to Windows 8. Type “backup” into the search bar after clicking Start (the Windows button in the bottom left), then click on Backup and Restore Center. Click Back up computer and the wizard will walk you through it.

The Best Method

When you first purchase a computer (or first reinstall Windows), and have only the operating system and your most commonly used programs, you can make a small, efficient image that will take up little space (probably between 10-15GB) which is small enough to easily fit on external media.

If You Need Help

If, after following the instructions, you are unable to accomplish the task, please feel free to call us for help at 256-575-0041 or 256-520-7327.

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