How To Create and Store a System Image in Windows 7

by mysticgeek on December 22, 2010

Windows

If you’ve just bought a new Windows 7 PC or just did a fresh install, creating a system image can save you a lot of time if you need to reinstall. Here we take a look at creating a System Image, Restore Disc, and storing the image too.

After getting a new PC or reformatting one you already have, it’s a good idea to install all updates and the software you want on it. Then create a System Image, which is an exact copy of your computer’s hard drive. In case of a hard drive failure or the next time you want to reformat, this will save you a lot of time getting your PC back to how it was.

1. To get started creating an image of your Windows 7 system, click the Start Menu and type backup into the search field and then click Backup and Restore.

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2. Alternately, you can click the Start Menu >> Getting Started >> Backup up your files.

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3. When Backup and Restore launches, click the Create a system image link in the left panel.

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4. Windows will start looking for backup devices. If you want to use an external hard drive, make sure it’s plugged in so it’ll be detected.

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5. You’ll be asked where you want to save the system image backup. You can choose an internal or external hard drive, a network location, and even go the “old school” route and burn it to DVDs. Keep in mind that if you store you’re image on your network,  you’ll  want to have your network card drivers handy so it can find the image.

For this tutorial we’re using an external hard drive that was already plugged into the machine then click Next.

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6. Next you’ll get an overview of where you’ve selected to store the image file and what drives will be backed up. If everything looks correct click on Start Backup.

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7. You’ll then see a progress dialog while the backup process completes. You can stop the backup process from this window if you need to as well.

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8. After the backup process is complete, you’re given the option to create a system repair disc. It’s recommended you make one if you haven’t already so you can use it to boot your PC and re-image it. Make sure to keep the repair disc in a safe location in case you need it if disaster strikes and your PC goes down.

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9. A wizard will start up so you can create the disc. Just pop in a CD or DVD in your drive and click Create Disc.

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10. Then wait while the Repair Disc is created.

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11. Success! You’ll be given a reminder to label the disc with the correct version of the OS, where in this example we created on for our Windows 7 64-bit system.

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12. When the entire process of creating a system image and System Restore Disc has completed, it’s not a bad idea to check the external hard drive where should see the following files and folders. You don’t need to worry about what the files mean at this point. When you need to re-image your machine, you’ll boot from the Restore Disc and then point to the location of the image files.

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You’re done! Now if you need to reformat your computer for any reason, you’ll be able to get everything back to the way it was when you created the image. Remember that the image will be an exact copy of your hard drive at the time you created the image. Make sure you’re backing up your files and folders regularly so if the worst happens you’ll be able to easily restore those too.

This feature is available in all versions of Windows 7 – both 32 & 64-bit versions.