Last updated on October 23rd, 2018
A System Image backup is an exact copy of your hard drive, which contains all the required Windows settings, programs and personal files, in order to restore you PC and all files after a disaster. In fact, if you have a system image backup you can restore your system exactly as it was when you performed the backup.
System Image backups, are very useful, because you can easily restore your system to a previously 100% working state (with all customizations and installed programs), especially if Windows fails to boot or if you cannot regain your system's functionality after reverting to a previous System Restore point.
Keep in mind that, System Image backups are different than System Restore points, because rolling back your system to a previous state (using System Restore), means that you are partially restoring it to a time that it worked normally and without affecting your personal files. On the other hand, if you recover your system from a system image backup (aka "System Image Recovery"), it means that you 'll be fully restoring your system as it was at the date when the image was created and all your personal files which were created after the date of system image creation will be lost.
In fact, System Image Backups are an exact copy of the state of Windows Settings, Programs and Personal files at the time when you backed up the system image. If you want to always have a recent copy of your personal files to avoid data loss, then read the following tutorials:
- How to Backup and Restore your Personal Files with Windows Backup.
- How to Backup Personal Files with SyncBack Free
This tutorial contains detailed instructions to take a full backup copy (System Image) of your current Windows configuration (settings and installed programs), in order to fully recover your system.
- Related article: How to Restore a System Image Backup in Windows 10, 8 or 7 OS.
How to Create a System Image in Windows 10/8/7 OS.
Method 1. Create a System Image with Backup and Restore.
1. Open Windows Control Panel, set the "View By:" to Small icons and open Backup and Restore.
2. Select Create a System Image on the left.
3. Then select the destination* to save the System Image and click Next. At this example I have chosen to save the image to the drive E:, which is the secondary partition on my main disk.
* Note: For backup destination it's better to choose another physical hard disk with enough free space, to avoid to lose your backups if the installed disk fails.
4. Finally review your backup settings and if they are OK, click Start Backup.
Method 2. Create a System Image using WBADMIN command.
The next method to create a system image backup, in Windows 10, 8 or 7, is by using the "WBADMIN" command, which enables you to back up and restore your operating system, volumes, files, folders, and applications from a command prompt.
As I mentioned above, a full system image backup must contain all the critical files needed to properly restore your system after a PC disaster. To accomplish this requirement, you must include in the backup, the system drive (e.g. the drive "C:") and the system partitions (e.g. the "System Reserved" partition). So, let's start…
1. In Windows Explorer note the drive letter of the backup destination (e.g. "E:")
2. Then, open Command Prompt as Administrator. (Command Prompt (Admin))
3. At command prompt window, give the following command and hit Enter: *
- wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:E: -include:C: -allCritical -quiet
* Notes: At the "backupTarget" switch, replace the drive letter "E", according to your backup destination drive letter.
4. Now wait until the backup is finished and you 're done.
That's it! Let me know if this guide has helped you by leaving your comment about your experience. Please like and share this guide to help others.