In the following guide we will show you how to bring windows back with system imagesillustrating the procedures for creating the image on Windows 11 and on Windows 10, as well as showing you what to do to restore the image in the event of a system crash.
READ ALSO -> Turn on Automatic Backup in Windows 10 and 11
1) Differences between system image and configuration restore
In order not to get confused, it is better to immediately understand the difference between the system image and the system restore.
The configuration restore creates a backup of only some important and recently changed files within the current Windows installation. This type of backup is very useful in case you delete files by mistake or if you make a mistake in the configuration, install some defective program or skip some system drivers.
With a’system image instead we’re going to create theexact duplicate of Windowssaving a copy of all system files, all configurations and all personal files stored on the PC up to that moment.
The system image file can become a very large file, so it is best to save it to a USB external diskso you can use the latest image in the event of a total PC crash or an infection that can’t be removed.
2) How to create system image from Windows 11
To create the system image on Windows 11, immediately connect the external USB disk to one of the USB ports on the PC then open the menu Startwe look for the Control Panelclick on System and securitywe press on Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and finally click on Create system image sideways to the left.
In the new window, tick the item On a hard drivewe select the USB external disk connected just now, press down on Avantiselect all the partitions on the computer and check the space required for the backup below: if the disk we have connected is large enough we will have no problems saving the backup image.
To conclude, all we have to do is press on Avanti and then click on Start Backup to proceed.
If the Windows installation is encrypted with BitLocker we will still be able to perform the backup but it will be advisable to keep the decryption code of the disk at hand, as seen in our guide on how to unlock protected and encrypted disk.
3) How to create system image from Windows 10
Those who have Windows 10 on their PC can create the system image by pressing WIN+I on the keyboard by clicking on Update and securityby pressing on the menu Backupby pressing on Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and finally up Create system image.
From here on the procedure is identical to that seen on Windows 11: we select the external USB disk, choose all the partitions present on Windows and start the procedure to create the system image to use in case of problems.
4) How to automatically create system images
The system integrated in Windows is excellent but we cannot program it: we will have to remember to create the system image at regular intervals. If we want to automate the process we will have to leave the external USB disk connected (or use network storage with a NAS device o one USB disk connected to the modem) and use for the purpose AOMEI Backupper Standardthe best software to create automatic system images.
To schedule the creation of backups we open AOMEI Backupper Standard on the PC, click on the menu Backupwe press on System backupsselect all the partitions on the disk, indicate at the bottom the external USB disk or the network resource on which to save the backup and press on Scheduled Backup.
In the new screen we choose the frequency of the automatic backup (for example every week), we choose the time and the best options for the backup, we press on OK and finally on Start Backup to start creating the first system image.
The program will install a service that will start the creation of the system image in a totally automatic way: we will just have to make sure that the PC is on and that the disk or network resource (used as image destination) is connected and accessible .
5) How to restore system image
If we have created the system image with the tool integrated in Windows we can restore it quickly by starting the advanced boot options (by forcibly restarting Windows 3 times at startup or from the specific settings menu), by clicking on Advanced options and finally up System image recovery.
The PC will restart and the window will appear where you can select the system image from the external USB disk or from the network resource: we will thus be able to quickly start restoring Windows to the date of the image.
If, on the other hand, we have used AOMEI Backupper Standard, open the program from a working PC, go to the menu Instrumentswe press on Create bootable discinsert an empty USB stick and follow the instructions.
At the end of the creation of the boot stick we connect it to the locked PC, we also connect the external USB disk with the images created so far, let’s change the boot orderselect to launch AOMEI Backupper, and in the recovery environment, launch AOMEI Backupper, select the Restore menu, click your favorite image and start the restore process.
System image recovery it has become within everyone’s reach, since we can use the tool included in Windows since Windows 7 and also available on Windows 10 and Windows 11 (even if it is a bit hidden on the latter).
If we get bored of creating images by hand we can plan to create new images with a great program like AOMEI Backupper Standardwhich also offers a recovery tool accessible from a USB stick (great for totally locked PCs).
If the Windows recovery console doesn’t work or nothing starts on your PC, we invite you to read our guides on how to reinstall windows 10 recovery console (windows RE) come on how to create a recovery usb stick in windows 10 and 11.