In the following guide, we will show you how to create a Windows 10 backup image right away, using only the tools integrated within the operating system, avoiding the installation of backup programs (however useful for obtaining an additional safety system in case of operating system defections).
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How to create a backup image on Windows 10
The system backup image will appear as a single image file, preferably to be kept on an external USB hard drive; if we do not have a hard drive for backups, we recommend that you read our article Best Portable Hard Drives before continuing with this guide.
Create a system disk image
To create a backup image of the Windows 10 system, immediately connect the USB hard drive to one of the free USB ports on the computer and proceed with the backup by opening the Start menu at the bottom left, looking for the app Control panel, pressing on the item Backup and Restore (Windows 7) (in the section System and Security) then clicking on the left side on the item Create a system image.
In the window that opens, select the item On a hard drive, make sure that the USB external disk is selected in the drop-down menu and, in the next screen, make sure that all the partitions indicated as (system) are selected and that the EFI partition is also marked (essential for recovery), then create the system image by pressing on Start Backup. The image will be saved on the connected USB disk and the backup creation time varies according to the size of the system and the speed of the USB port used: in fact, we recommend using only USB 3.0 or higher, with USB hard drives with the same technology.
Once we have saved the system image we have to create a bootable recovery environment from USB, so you can restore the image even if the original system is corrupt and won’t boot anymore. To proceed, let’s first get a good USB stick of at least 8GB, connect it to the computer on one of the free USB ports and proceed by opening the Start menu at the bottom left, typing on the keyboard recovery disk, and opening the voice Create a recovery drive.
In the new screen that will open, click on Forward, we wait for the time necessary to recover the files for the recovery environment, select the USB key inserted in the PC then press the button Create to finish creating the key.
Restore system disk image
Does the computer suddenly stop working? Can’t boot into Windows 10 in any way? We can restore the operating system using the recovery environment and system image created as indicated in the previous chapter. To proceed, first, connect the USB key with the recovery environment to the malfunctioning computer, let’s change the boot order at boot choosing the USB stick to boot the Windows 10 recovery environment.
As soon as we get to the recovery environment screen, connect the USB hard drive where we have kept the system image, press on the menu System Image Restore, select the disk described above, and follow the instructions provided to restore the system image.
To avoid any kind of error vi we recommend that you only use system images specific to the computer we are repairing: Using other images may lead to unexpected errors and computer malfunction right after startup.
The recovery environment, on the other hand, can also be used without problems to restore the startup of other damaged PCs or to load specific system images, as also seen in the guide How to create a recovery USB stick in Windows 10.
The system images that can be managed with Windows 10 are a sort of photograph of the system at that precise moment: we can therefore return to the settings indicated in the event of a very heavy malware infection, in the case of crazy drivers or in the event that Windows 10 no longer starts. (not even from the recovery console, which on Windows 10 works quite well and allows you to restore your PC quickly).
To discover other recovery and backup methods available for Windows 10, please read our guides How to reset Windows 10 (Reset PC) e How to backup to an external USB drive.
If, on the other hand, we need to save personal files (documents, music, videos, and images) from a possible error or system block, we invite you to continue reading in our guide How to backup files in Windows 10.