A guide for creating a system image in Windows 7 and Windows 8

Windows 7 and Windows 8 offer a function of creating a system image that may be used to restore hard drives to the same state as they were when a backup was created. The backup has your personal information and Windows files. A system image can be created manually or scheduled to be created by the program.

For an automatic system image backup to be created you will need Windows Backup program. One of the advantages of having daily system images is an option to use them if one needs to restore her computer. The other advantage is that you can have as many images as there is space on a hard drive. To set an automatic daily system image creation you need to login to your computer with an account having administrator privileges. Then you should do the following:

  1. Open Windows 7 File Recovery application:

For Windows 7: click on the ‘Start’ menu and type ‘Backup’; click on the ‘Backup and Restore’, Windows 7 File Recovery application should be opened;

For Windows 8: go to ‘Start Screen’ and type Windows 7 file; click on ‘Settings’ in the search results; click on the option ‘Windows 7 File Recovery‘, Windows 7 File Recovery application will be opened.

  1. Click on the ‘Set up Backup’ option. When a window opens, you may choose where to save your backups. It is recommended to save them to an external drive. It will ensure you will be able to restore the system image easily and quickly.
  2. Click on ‘Next’ button. A window letting you choose what data to backup will open.
  3. Click on ‘Let me choose’ option and then on ‘Next’ button. When a window opens uncheck everything except ‘Include a system image of drives’. Click ‘Next’ button. If you wish to save additional information, you may leave wanted boxes checked.
  4. For the time to be scheduled click on ‘Change schedule’ option and choose a wanted time and date.
  5. Click on ‘Save settings and run backup’ for the backup to begin. It may take a while for a system image to be created.

For a manual system image backup to be created you need to be logged in with an account having administrator privileges. Note that you can create only one system image on your backup drive. If you want to have them more you will have to rename your system image backup folders. To create a system image you should:

  1. Open Windows 7 File Recovery application:

For Windows 7: click on the ‘Start’ menu and type ‘Backup’; click on the ‘Backup and Restore’, Windows 7 File Recovery application should be opened;

For Windows 8: go to ‘Start Screen’ and type Windows 7 file; click on ‘Settings’ in the search results; click on the option ‘Windows 7 File Recovery‘, Windows 7 File Recovery application will be opened.

  1. Click on ‘Create a system image’. When a new window opens you will be able to select the backup device you wish to use for storing the System Image. You can select any of: hard disk (an extra hard drive installed on your computer, an external hard drive, or a USB drive – this is a recommended method); DVD (this method is time consuming and you will need more than one DVD, if one of DVD‘s is lost or damaged, the entire system image will be unusable); network location (available only for Windows 7 Pro, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Business, and Windows 8 Enterprise editions).
  2. Click on the ‘Next’ button. For multiple drives or partitions on your computer you will get a window asking to select which drive letters you would like to include in the image. You cannot backup the drive that you are saving the image to. By default, the System and the System Reserved partitions will automatically be selected. You may wish to include other partitions as well.
  3. After you finished selecting the drives to backup, click on the ‘Next’ button. A confirmation window will be opened.
  4. To begin the process click on the ‘Start backup’ button. It may take a while for the system image to be created. After it is finished you will be shown a window for creating a system repair disk. Choose ‘No’ and the backup process will be completed.
  5. Click on ‘Close’ button and exit Windows 7 File Recovery.

For the system image to be restore you should choose ‘System Image Recovery‘ tool in the ‘Windows Recovery Environment’.

For a multiple system image backups to be created you should rename the folders that have the system image. If you do not do this, a new system image will replace the previous one. System images are located in

:\WindowsImageBackup\\Backup Year-Month-Day hourminutesecond

To rename a folder:

  1. Open up the drive where the system was created and locate the ‘WindowsImageBackup’ folder.
  2. Right-click on the folder and select ‘Rename’. It is recommended to use the date when a folder was created for renaming. If you receive a UAC prompt when attempting to rename the folder, please allow it to continue.

When you want to restore a system image, rename the image you plan to use to WindowsImageBackup because System Image Recovery can restore only from the WindowsImageBackup folder.

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