Cre­ate an im­age backup in Win­dows 10

LIN­COLN SPEC­TOR re­veals how to safe­guard ev­ery­thing on your hard drive with his handy guide to pro­duc­ing an im­age backup

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

How do you re­cover from a dead in­ter­nal hard drive or SSD? Or if Win­dows be­comes so messed up it’s un­bootable? You can al­ways re­in­stall Win­dows from scratch. But af­ter that you must re­in­stall all of your pro­grams, then re­con­fig­ure ev­ery­thing. But if you have a re­cent im­age backup handy, you can re­cover Win­dows, your pro­grams, and your con­fig­u­ra­tions with a few min­utes’ work.

Im­age backup ver­sus file backup

An im­age backup copies ev­ery­thing on your drive, in­clud­ing par­ti­tions and the boot sec­tor. It’s the only way to back up your Win­dows in­stal­la­tion prop­erly, with all of your pro­grams and set­tings.

Don’t con­fuse this with a file backup though, which only copies your data files (doc­u­ments, pho­tos, spread­sheets, and so on).

Of the two, the file backup is the most im­por­tant. You can al­ways re­in­stall Win­dows and your ap­pli­ca­tions, but you can’t re­in­stall your busi­ness records or your fam­ily pho­tos. You should back up data files daily.

By com­par­i­son, an im­age backup sim­ply saves you the ma­jor has­sle of re­in­stalling ev­ery­thing. I rec­om­mend you cre­ate an im­age backup three or four times a year, sav­ing it to an ex­ter­nal hard drive.

Cre­ate an im­age backup in Win­dows 10

1. Plug in your ex­ter­nal hard drive – which should have enough free space to hold ev­ery­thing on your in­ter­nal drive. (The WD My Pass­port 4TB (£114 from fave. co/2zvA8Fr) is our cur­rent top pick for this pur­pose.) Make sure Win­dows can ac­cess the drive. 2. Now go to Con­trol Panel > Backup and Re­store (Win­dows 7) – don’t worry about the ‘Win­dows 7’ la­bel. 3. Click Cre­ate a sys­tem im­age in the up­per left.

4. On the fol­low­ing screen, make sure your backup drive is selected (or con­versely choose the op­tion to back up to DVDs or a net­work lo­ca­tion).

5. Hit Next, make sure your C: drive is selected (as well as any other drives you want to back up), and click the Start backup but­ton.

The backup may take a few hours. You can con­tinue to work as it backs up. How­ever, I pre­fer to start the backup at the end of the work day so it doesn’t slow any­thing down.

When the backup is over, you’ll be asked if you want to cre­ate a Sys­tem Re­pair Disc. If your PC has an op­ti­cal drive, cre­ate the disc. If not, cre­ate a Re­cov­ery Drive: Plug in a blank flash drive, open Con­trol Panel’s Re­cov­ery tool, click ‘Cre­ate a re­cov­ery drive’, and fol­low the prompts. This drive will en­able you to re­store your sys­tem im­age when the time comes.

Re­store the backup

When Win­dows is in a seem­ingly hope­less con­di­tion, you’ll need to get into the re­cov­ery en­vi­ron­ment to re­store the im­age. Here are three ways to do that:

If you can still boot into Win­dows: Se­lect Start > Set­tings > Up­date & se­cu­rity. Se­lect Re­cov­ery in the left pane, then se­lect Restart now.

If Win­dows won’t boot and you have a Sys­tem Re­pair

Disc: In­sert the disc into your op­ti­cal drive and boot your PC. When you’re asked to “Press any key…”, press any key. Then pick a lan­guage. If Win­dows won’t boot and you have a Re­cov­ery Drive: In­sert the Re­cov­ery flash drive into a USB port and boot your PC. If your PC skips the flash drive and at­tempts to boot Win­dows, re­boot and en­ter your Setup screen (F2 usu­ally works; if it doesn’t, check your man­ual). Look for a boot or boot or­der op­tion. Once you’ve suc­cess­fully booted the flash drive, se­lect a lan­guage.

Once you’re in a re­cov­ery en­vi­ron­ment, se­lect Trou­bleshoot, then Sys­tem Im­age Re­cov­ery. Fol­low the in­struc­tions

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