How To Create and Restore A System Image in Windows 8.1 and 10

A system image is an exact copy of your drive, including not only the drives required to run Windows but also system settings, programs, and files. It could be your last resort to restore your computer if your hard drive or windows stops working completely. It’s a complete restoration that is going to overwrite everything that are currently on your computer.

Because a system image includes your personal data and can be used to fully recover a damaged system, it’s recommended that you do create a System Image of your computer periodically as part of your backup plan. And here is how you can do it in both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Create a standalone System Image

Open Control Panel, and go to System and Security, then File History. Click on System Image Backup under See also section at the bottom left corner.

Control Panel - File History

The Create a System Image utility opens, waiting for you to pick a suitable storage place to save the image file. A second or external USB hard drive with large capacity is much preferred. You can’t save a System Image in the same drive that you are backing up.

Create a system image

Click Next when ready, and confirm the setting next window before clicking on Start backup.

Create a system image - confirm settings

Depending on how big the drives are, it could take some time to have the image created. The image file will be saved under WindowsImageBackup folder in the drive you selected earlier.

Restore a System Image

Here is how you can use a previous saved System Image to revert your computer back to a previous state when your computer is still working.

Open Control Panel, and go to Recovery, then Open System Restore,

Windows 10 Recovery

Click Next, and check the option “Show more restore points” to show the System Image created before.

Windows 10 - System restore

You can use the button Scan for affected programs to find out what will happen if you go with the selected Restore Point. When all set, go to Next.

Windows 10 - Confirming the restore point

Click Finish and let Windows to the rest for you. The computer will restart itself when it’s done.

Restore a System Image when my computer cannot boot anymore

What if my computer got crashed and cannot boot to Windows anymore? Well, here is what you can do.

Boot to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 installation media. When you get to the screen like below, click Repair your computer instead of Install Now.

Windows 10 - repair your computer

It takes you straight to the Advanced Startup menu, like below:

Windows 10 - Advanced Options

Select Troubleshoot,

Windows 10 - Advanced Options - Troubleshoot

Then Advanced options,

Windows 10 - Advanced Options

Then, select System Image Recovery option. The computer boots into Re-image your computer.

Re-image your computer

Follow through the wizard, select the right restore point, and off you go.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 03/11/2015

Posted in: Windows 10 , Windows 8
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