How to Image (Backup) a Computer

By Gabriele Sturmer

Windows provides a utility that lets you make backup images of your operating system, files and settings and enables you to back up specific hard drives or every drive in your computer. The utility can save the images to external hard drives, DVDs, flash drives or network drives. After creating an image, you can recover deleted or damaged files and recover your entire computer if necessary. You can recover items from within Windows or from booting your computer with a Windows installation disc.

Step 1

Connect any external storage devices to your computer, if necessary. Click the "Start" button, type "Backup and Restore" in the search box and press "Enter."

Step 2

Click the "Create a System Image" link in the left side of the window. Select the location, such as a hard disk, DVD or network location where you want to store the image, on the wizard's first screen, then click "Next."

Step 3

Click the box next to each drive you want to include in the image. The wizard selects your system drive by default, but you can also select any other hard drives in the list. Click "Next" after you make your selections.

Step 4

Click the "Start Backup" button at the end of the wizard. Windows then starts backing up your computer to the selected destination. If you chose a DVD drive, insert the first disc when prompted, and Windows will tell you when to insert additional discs.

Tips & Warnings

  • To recover your entire computer, you must use the Windows installation disc to access the restore utility. You can recover individual files, folders or non-system hard drives from within Windows.