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How to create a system image in Windows

Creating a System Image Backup in Windows 7, 8, or 10  (8.1)

Decide where you want to save the image. You can choose an external drive, burn to multiple DVD’s, or store it on a network location.


You can include other drives if you want as well but remember that will add to the size of the final image.


At the confirmation screen notice the amount of space the image may take. If something doesn’t look right you can still go back from this point and make adjustments.


A progress meter is displayed while the images is created and backed up. In this example a disk of about 15GB in size took under 20 minutes backed up to an external drive. Times will vary depending on your system and where you’re backing it up to.


After the process is complete you get the option to create a system repair disc which you should do and make sure to save it in a secure location.



When it comes time to restore the image, you will be able to use the System Recovery Options to get the system back.


Image in Windows Vista

Vista Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise allow you to create an image, but Vista Home and Home Premium users do not have the option. The process is similar in Vista, type backup into the search bar and click on Backup and Restore Center.


Then click on Back up computer and the wizard will guide you through the process.

Windows System image 8.1


System Backup Image is present in Windows 7 as well as in Windows 8. For some reason, Microsoft has dropped System Image feature from Windows 8.1 update. Even though there are plenty of good tools out there to create and restore system backup image, some users might just prefer to have this native tool to create image backup.

Luckily, Microsoft has only removed the UI version Backup Image from Windows 8.1 and one can create image backup from Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell.

Follow the given below instructions to create system image in Windows 8.1 without using third-party tools:

Step 1: Connect your USB drive to your Windows 8.1 PC and make sure that it has sufficient free space on it. The free space on your external drive must be more than the data on your Windows 8.1 drive.

Note that if you’ve installed Windows 8.1 in dual boot Windows 8 or any other version, the image backup tool might include more than one drive in the backup and will take more space.

Step 2: Open Command Prompt as administrator on your Windows 8.1 machine. To do this, there are a couple of ways. You can either type CMD on Start screen and simultaneously press Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys to open elevated Command Prompt or right-click on the Start button and then click PowerShell (Admin) to open Windows PowerShell with admin rights. Click on the Yes button when you see the UAC prompt.

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture5

Step 3: In the elevated Command Prompt or PowerShell, type the following command and press enter key:

wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:H: -include:C: -allCritical –quiet

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture1

(In the above command, replace "H” with your USB drive and replace "C” with your Windows 8.1 installation drive)

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture2

NOTE: As you can see the in the above picture, the tool is backing up both C and D drives as I have installed Windows 8.1 (drive C) in dual boot with Windows 8(drive D).

Step 4: Depending on the number of drives, total data, and your system hardware, the process might take hours to complete. Once done, you’ll see "The backup operation successfully completed” message. Safely remove the external hardware and store it in a safe location. That’s it!

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1

And if you are search for a good third-party tool to create image backup, we recommend Macrium Reflect Free edition.