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.
2) In the left pane of the Backup and Restore dialog box, click on “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”.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
4) Let Windows choose the data files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders. Click “Next”.
5) Click “Save Settings and run backup”, and then let Windows to complete the backup process.
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”.
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.
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.
6) Windows will now boot into recovery mode. Select the type of keyboard and then click “Next>”.
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>”.
8) Choose the backup image, and then click “Next>”.
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”.
10) You will a warning that your current PC will be replaced with the data in the system image. Click “Yes”.
11) After recovery is complete, you will have to click on “Restart now”.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
17) Let the restoring process complete.
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.