By Dan Gookin

If you haven’t already, create a system image for your Windows computer. This is a backup copy of Windows that you can use to rebuild the system if disaster strikes the PC’s primary storage device. Follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Windows key.
  2. Type backup.
  3. Choose the item Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Control Panel from the list of search results.

    The Windows 7 Backup program is still available on your Windows 10 computer. You can use it as the PC’s backup software, though File History is better. For these steps, however, your purpose is instead to create a system image.
  4. On the left side of the window, choose Create a System Image.

    The Create a System Image wizard runs.

  5. Choose a location for the system image.

    Use the same external hard drive that you use for File History. You can use network storage, but Windows displays a warning. If you’re certain that the network storage is secure, you can use it.

  6. Click the Next button.

    The wizard lists drives (partitions) to save with the system image. If your PC features UEFI and Recovery volumes, they’re automatically included in the list along with drive C, the PC’s primary storage device.

  7. Add other drives to the items included in the system image backup.

    Adding any other drives is not recommended, unless you’re certain that they’re not being backed up.
  8. Click the Next button.
    Review the system image backup details on the screen.
  9. Click the Start Backup button to create the system image.
    Windows creates the system image file on the media you selected. The amount of time this process takes depends on the amount of data backed up and the connection speed.

When the process is complete, you may see a prompt asking whether you want to create a system repair disk. The repair disk, or recovery volume, is what makes the system image useful. If you don’t already have a repair disk, create one: Click Yes and follow the directions on the screen.

  • You need only one copy of the system image. This process isn’t something you must repeat every so often. When you have the system image, you can restore it later, should you need to.

• Beyond security, another limitation of using network storage is that the computer must have network access if you plan to rebuild the system. If you must boot into safe mode to restore the system, ensure that you enable networking.

  • You can use the Windows 7 Backup and Restore program to restore files from an older Windows computer. In the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) window, click the link Select Another Backup to Restore Files From, and then browse for the older computer’s backup files.