Ultimate Guide: Windows 7 Backup and Recovery

backup and recovery guide

First thing to do after purchasing a new Windows PC is to see if you have manufacturer provided Windows Recovery DVD. Now-a-days almost all manufacturers no longer bundle the Window installation DVD along with PC, instead they preinstall their own recovery software, for example OneKey recovery for Lenovo PCs. But if your PC is running Windows 7, you no longer need to depend on the third party software to backup Windows and restore it, because Windows 7 comes with a built-in Backup and Restore feature. Let’s walk you through step-by-step process to create your systems current image and then restore it when your Windows go corrupt due to virus or damage of system files.

5 things you need to know about Windows 7 backup and restore

  • Windows 7 system image takes exact copy of your PC along with installed software and data.
  • System image backup feature only backups data as on that day. Your data will not get updated automatically in the system image.
  • System image is the best way to backup Windows compared to System Restore because the latter doesn’t guarantee 100% recovery, but system image does.
  • Normally you can restore system image only on the PC where it is created.
  • System image retains the Windows product key along with it, therefore Windows can restored without the need to note down product key.

How to backup and create Windows 7 System Image

1) Click on “Start”, type “Backup” in the search box and then hit enter.

Launch Backup

Launch Backup

2) In the left pane of the Backup and Restore dialog box, click on “Create System Image” .

Launch Create System Image

Launch Create System Image

3) Choose the location where you want to save the backup image from the list of 3 options, including external hard disk, a DVD, or a network location. Make sure you create a new folder and name it such that you identify what is it meant for, in the location you choose. In my example, I am saving the backup image in a folder “Windows 7 Backup Image” located on a network. Click “Next”.

Choose a location to save the backup image

Choose a location to save the backup image

4) Windows will display size of the backup image and the drive that will be backed up; usually it is the C: drive in which Windows is installed. Click “Start backup”.

Review Backup Drive

Review Backup Drive

5) Windows will now start backup process. After backup is complete, Windows may ask you if you want to create a system repair disc; this disc is useful when your PC can’t even boot into Windows. If you haven’t created one yet, go ahead and create one for you. One CD is enough for it.

Create system repair disc

Create system repair disc

6) Browse to the location where you took the backup, to see all the Windows 7 system image files. These are important backup files, therefore make sure not to accidentally delete any files if stored on hard disk. If you created the backup on DVDs, then store them safely somewhere, you never know when you will be needing them.

Windows 7 Backup Image Files

Windows 7 Backup Image Files

Backup your current data before restoring Windows

By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run including Windows, your system settings, programs, and files. But, I recommend you to perform a backup of your current data just in case before proceeding with restoring your computer.

1) Click “Start”, enter “Backup” in search box and then hit enter.

2) In the Backup and Restore dialog box, click on “Set up backup”.

Set up Backup

Set up Backup

3) Choose the destination of backup; it can be a DVD or external hard disk or a network location. I have used a network location in my example.

Backup Location

Backup Location

4) Let Windows choose the data files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders. Click “Next”.

Files to Backup

Files to Backup

5) Click “Save Settings and run backup”, and then let Windows to complete the backup process.

Backup of files in progress

Backup of files in progress

How to Recover Windows 7 using System Image Backup

In the unfortunate event of Windows 7 going corrupt due to virus or some other reason, you may want to restore it with the earlier backed up image.

1) Click “Start” button, type “Recovery” and then hit enter.

2) Click on “Advanced recovery methods”.

Advanced Recovery Methods

Advanced Recovery Methods

3) You get two options in the following dialog box. The first option lets you recover Windows 7 using the System Image that you have created earlier. The second option for those who have the Windows Installation DVD provided by manufacturer. Since this article mainly focuses on creating image backup manually and using it to restore Windows, I choose the first option.


Advanced Recovery Options

Advanced Recovery Options

4) Windows you ask you if you want to backup your personal data. Since we have already done it in the second section of this article, click “Skip”.

5) Restart your computer in recovery mode.

Restart Computer in Recovery mode

Restart Computer in Recovery mode

6) Windows will now boot into recovery mode. Select the type of keyboard and then click “Next>”.

Restore Keyboard Options

Restore Keyboard Options

7) Windows may give a warning that it couldn’t find backup image on this computer. That’s usually the case if you have saved the backup image in a network drive or a external hard disk. Those who have system image on the same computer hard disk will not get the warning. They can directly choose from the list of available images. Other need to choose “select a system image” radio button and then click on “Next>”.

Select a system image

Select a system image

8) Choose the backup image, and then click “Next>”.

Restore Image Backup Time

Restore Image Backup Time

9) In the following dialog box, you may get option to format and re-partition disks if you want it that way. Click “Next>”, and then click “Finish”.

Restore Image

Restore Image

10) You will a warning that your current PC will be replaced with the data in the system image. Click “Yes”.

Restore Warning

Restore Warning

11) After recovery is complete, you will have to click on “Restart now”.

Restart Computer

Restart Computer

12) After Windows restarts, your PC’s Windows 7 recovery is complete. Windows will ask you if you want to restore your personal data from the previous backups. If you had done backup of data earlier, click on “Restore my files”.

Recovery Complete

Recovery Complete

13) Windows will list all the available personal data backups. If you have data on network location, then click on “Browse network location” and add the backup.

Select Backup

Select Backup

14) You get options to select all files from the chosen backup data. If you want to search and restore only a part data, you can do that too.

Select all files from backup

Select all files from backup

15) You also get option to use the original location of files or choose a different path. Most of us will go with first option.

Restore Files Options

Restore Files Options

16) If you already have the same personal data in your computer, choose copy and replace if you feel that the data in the backup is better than what you have now, else you still have other options to choose from. Check the box “Do this for all conflicts” to apply the condition to all prompts to avoid hassle of repeated actions.

Copy and Replace Options

Copy and Replace Options

17) Let the restoring process complete.

Personal Files Restoring

Personal Files Restoring

18) Congratulations! You have now successfully restored Windows 7 and your personal data too. Got any questions or feedback? Leave a comment below, and I will try my best to respond.

Personal Files Restored

Personal Files Restored

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Kiran Kumar

Hi there! Kiran Kumar is an Engineer by profession, and loves blogging primarily on Microsoft Windows operating system and also enjoys reviewing software and products. Currently, he is exploring Windows 10 and you will see a lot of articles on know-how about it. When he is not writing for TWP, he enjoys time with his Family, listens to lot of music, enjoys Biking, and occasionally plays racing games on Xbox One.