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A system image can be used to restore your machine to a defined state.  If you find yourself reinstalling Windows quite often and have to reinstall the same old software each time, this can certainly take the sting out of it.  Respectively, if you have terrible troubles with Windows, a system image can be used to roll back to a good state when nothing else will work for you.

A system Image is a clone of your hard drive, meaning everything will be backed up for later restoration, during which, items cannot be individually specified.  You cannot backup the partition or drive that you are saving the backup image to, and you can only save the backup image on a hard drive or partition that Windows 7 is not installed on.

Unfortunately only Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions have this feature.  For any other flavour, it’s best to check out 3rd party alternatives.

This guide will walk you through creating a System Image in Windows 7.

Step 1.

Click the Start Orb and in the right pane, click Control Panel.

Step 2.

In the Control Panel, click System and Security.

Step 3.

Click Backup and Restore.

Step 4.

In the left pane, click Create a system image.  Accept any UAC prompts regarding creating the system image.

Step 5.

Windows will scan all drives and partitions to find a suitable place to save the image to.  I certainly recommend setting the backup to save on a separate hard drive.  In any case, choose your destination from the 3 options and further specify from the drop down menus.  Click Next when you have made your choice.

Step 6.

The next windows will ask which drives you want to backup.  The drives Windows requires to run will be backed up automatically, furthermore, you cannot backup the drive on which the image is being saved to (eg.  In my case the image is being saved to K:. K: is not available to backup).

When you have made your choices, click Next.

Step 7.

You’ll now be asked to confirm the settings.  Review the information and when you’re happy, click Start Backup.

Depending on how much data Windows has to backup depends on the amount of time it will take.  I had 24GB to backup an it took around 30 minutes to complete.

And that’s it, it’s as simple as that.  This method of restoration should be used as a last resort when other methods like System Restore, Startup Repair etc. will not work.



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Comments

3 thoughts on “Create a System Image in Windows 7 [How To]”

  1. Brainscooper says:

    I tried this with my PC, but finally gave up since the back up time was very long and since the image could not be compressed. I have gone back to using Macrium Reflect Free edition, which compresses the disk image, and also works a lot faster, taking 10-11 minutes for a 25GB back up. A point to note is that you have to create a Rescue CD when you use Macrium, so that you can reload the image even if the computer does not start up. With the Windows built in back up, you just have to use the original Windows CD.

  2. Brainscooper says:

    I tried this with my PC, but finally gave up since the back up time was very long and since the image could not be compressed. I have gone back to using Macrium Reflect Free edition, which compresses the disk image, and also works a lot faster, taking 10-11 minutes for a 25GB back up. A point to note is that you have to create a Rescue CD when you use Macrium, so that you can reload the image even if the computer does not start up. With the Windows built in back up, you just have to use the original Windows CD.

  3. Brainscooper says:

    I tried this with my PC, but finally gave up since the back up time was very long and since the image could not be compressed. I have gone back to using Macrium Reflect Free edition, which compresses the disk image, and also works a lot faster, taking 10-11 minutes for a 25GB back up. A point to note is that you have to create a Rescue CD when you use Macrium, so that you can reload the image even if the computer does not start up. With the Windows built in back up, you just have to use the original Windows CD.

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