One option is to use Windows’ built-in tool.
When it comes to protecting yourself from almost anything that could go wrong, nothing is more effective than to periodically make an image backup of your system — a Windows image backup. An image, by definition, includes absolutely everything on the hard disk, and can be used to restore your system after replacing a broken hard disk.
There are many different ways to do this. I have other articles discussing some of the other tools available. However, Windows includes a built-in image backup tool. I’m not a huge fan of it, it is better than nothing, and you don’t need to install anything to use it.
We’ll make an image backup using the Windows 7 backup tool in Windows 11. Let me show you how that works.
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Making a Windows image backup
- Search for Control Panel
- Select ‘Backup and Restore (Windows 7)’
- Choose ‘Create a system image’
- Select an external hard drive as the destination
The time it takes varies based on the amount of data you have to back up and the speed of your drives.
Click on Start and search for “control panel”. Click on that when it shows.
In Control Panel, search for “backup”.
Click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
Creating the Windows backup image
Click on Create a system image on the left. This will open a dialog asking where you want to save the backup.
I recommend using an external hard drive. The “On a hard disk” drop-down will list all the available disks connected to your computer on which the backup can be stored. Select your external drive and click Next. A confirmation window is displayed.
This lists the selections we’ve made along the way with some additional information. In the example above:
- We’re placing the backup on my “Faux” USB drive, D:.
- It could take up to 24GB of space (depending on the amount of data stored on your system).
- The three partitions on the hard disk are selected to be backed up.
Click on Start backup.
Exactly how long this backup takes depends on several factors.
- How much is stored on the drive
- The speed of the drive
- The speed of your backup drive
- The speed of the interface to the backup drive
Eventually, the backup is complete.
You may be asked if you want to create a Repair disc.
The Windows backup image has been created.
Having made an image backup, you now know that if you ever run into a problem, you can revert your entire machine to the state it was in at the time you took this image backup.
There are other tools to do this that I prefer because they give you more flexibility and visibility into exactly what’s happening when you back things up.
But again, this is better than no backup at all and doesn’t require any third-party download.
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