File History is the default backup solution in Windows 10, and it creates new copies of your files as they change. It’s also a good idea to keep a full System Image Backup, which can be used to recover your entire PC, including the operating system, in the event of a disaster.
The advanced backup tools in Windows 10 have been carried over from Windows 7. They’re labeled “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” in Control Panel, which is a little confusing. Don’t be fooled by the title’s mention of Windows 7; these all work flawlessly on Windows 10. File History is simply emphasized by Microsoft as a more accessible approach to backups for average home users.
How to Make a System Image Backup in Windows 10
A system image backup creates a recoverable clone of your operating system’s drive, whereas File History is designed to only backup your personal files. You can use the disk image to recover your PC in the future, even if it’s unbootable or won’t start. The contents of the disk image can be cloned back to your hard drive using Windows installation media on a DVD or USB.
Because disk images only include your operating system drive, you’ll need to remember this if your device has multiple drives, such as an SSD for the system and a hard drive for your files. A system image is only one part of a comprehensive backup strategy; it’s best used in conjunction with a personal file management system like File History. This way, you’ll be able to easily recover your files while also ensuring that your operating system can be restored if you get infected with malware or your hard drive fails.
You’ll need a storage medium to save the disk image to before you can follow this guide. Network drives, external hard disks, and a set of DVDs are all supported by Windows. Because they contain a replica of everything on your hard drive, system image backups can be quite large. You’ll need a large external hard drive or a network share in the best case scenario.
Open Control Panel (type “control” into the Start menu of Windows 10) to create a disk image. Click the “Back up and Restore (Windows 7)” link on the “System and Security” tile. To begin the procedure, go to the next screen and click the “Create a system image” link in the left navigation bar. You must be logged in as an administrator to do so.
Windows will now look for devices and drives where the backup can be saved. Then press “Next” after selecting the appropriate radio button for the medium you’ll be using.
The final screen confirms the location of the backup and allows you to inspect the drives that will be included in the system image. The screen also shows an estimate of how large the backup will be; if your system drive has a lot of files, this could be hundreds or thousands of gigabytes.
To begin creating the system image, click the “Start backup” button. Depending on the size of your backup, this could take a long time to complete. However, subsequent trips to the same location should be faster because Windows can use block-based comparisons to avoid rewriting sections of the image that haven’t changed.
Once you’ve created your disk image, save it to an external storage medium so you can use it in an emergency. To ensure that your image is kept up-to-date with changes on your PC, you should create a new image on a regular basis. It’s possible to include a system image in your backup if you’re already using Windows Backup (see “Back up and Restore (Windows 7)”).
Open the Settings app and go to the “Update & Security” category to use your disk image to recover your PC. To begin the recovery process, go to the “Recovery” page and then press “Restart now.” Your computer will restart, allowing you to begin the system image recovery process.