In this last article discussing how to create and restore Windows backups, I am going to finish discussing how to make backups in Windows 8.1. In the first Windows 8.1 article, I looked at how to back up users’ files and folders with File History. In this article, I am going to discuss the other part of creating and restoring backups in Windows 8.1. The second type of backup is the creation and restoration of system images. System images are used as one way to recover from issues that have prevented the computer from booting normally. A system image contains the Windows installation, programs, files, and folders on a selected drive. Everything on that drive is included in the system image. Unlike Windows Backups, users cannot select what they wish to include with this backup method.
Creating a System Image in Windows 8.1
Before restoring a system image, users need to know how to create system images. To create a system image, please use the following steps:
1. Right-click on the Windows Flag.
2. Click on Control Panel.
3. If viewing by Small icons or Large icons, select the File History option. If viewing by category, click on Save backup copies of your files with File History.
4. Click on System Image Backup in the bottom left corner of the window shown below.
5. Select the backup save location. I am going to have to use a network location as my virtual machine does not detect other the other hard disks on my computer and I do not have an optical drive configured for use with the VM. If using a hard disk or optical drive, select the location and continue on to step 8. If using a network location select the option titled On a network location.
6. Click on the Select… button.
7. A new window will load asking users to select the network location. After clicking the Save on a network… button, the Select a network location screen will load. On this screen, users will need to enter the network location and login credentials for the network drive that the backups will be stored on. If necessary, click on the Browse… button and then browse to the network location needed. After selecting the network location, users will be need to enter the login credentials needed to access that network drive on the Save a network location screen.
8. Click OK. This window will close and users will be back to the main Create a system image window.
9. Click the Next button.
10. Confirm the backup settings.
11. Click on the Start backup button.
12. At this point, Windows will create the system image backup.
13. Click on the Close button to return to the File History window.
Restoring a System Image using Windows 8.1
Once the system image has been created, users can restore the computer’s hard drive using the image. With Windows 8.1, restoring a system image must be done using the installation media. Before loading the installation media, users will need to make sure the optical drive is the first device in the boot order in their computer’s BIOS. The steps to change the boot order vary between the different motherboard manufacturers so I recommend looking up the specific process for your computer manufacturer if using a prebuilt system or for the process for the specific motherboard model if the computer was custom built.
Please use the following steps to restore a computer hard drive from a system image.
1. After starting the computer, press any key to boot from CD of DVD…
2. Click on Next in the Windows Setup screen.
3. Click the Repair your computer link in the bottom left corner of the next screen.
4. Click on the Troubleshoot option.
5. On the Troubleshoot screen, click on the last item, Advanced Options.
6. On the Advanced options screen, click on System Image Recovery.
7. On the System Image Recovery screed, click on the target operating system, in this case Windows 8.1.
8. At this point, Windows will load into the System Recovery Environment we also saw in Windows 7. When System Recovery loads, it will automatically look for system images that can be used in restoring the computer. In my case, System Recovery did not find a system image on the local computer as I stored it on a network drive. If System Recovery found an image, skip to step 16. Otherwise, continue to the next step.
9. If no system images were found, click on Cancel. If a system image had been found, the first option would be available to use but in my case, I will need to use the second option to Select a system image.
10. Click on Next.
11. The next screen of this wizard allows users to select the location of the system image. If the image is on a DVD or other type of optical disc, insert it into the optical drive for the computer and click the Refresh button. For system images stored on a network location, click on the Advanced button.
12. A window will appear with two options. The first option to search for a system image on the network is the one I will be using. The second option is used if a driver needs installed on the computer before the location of the system images can be accessed.
13. A confirmation window will load asking if users if they are sure that they want to connect to the network. Click on the Yes button.
14. System Recovery will try to access the network but you likely will be prompted to enter the network location. Users will need to know the exact path to the system image as there is not an option to browse to the network location on this step. Enter the path to the network location and click OK.
15. Enter your username and password for the network location when prompted.
16. System Recovery will return to the screen where we clicked the Advanced button but now there will be at least 1 system image listed in the box above the Advanced and Refresh buttons. In my case, I have 2 system images listed as the system image I created for the Windows 7 article is still saved on the network drive. Select the system image needed and click the Next button.
17. The next screen to load asks users to select the date and time of the system image to restore. In my case, I only have one system image saved for Windows 8.1. Click on the system image to use and click the Next button.
18. Users are prompted whether or not they wish to format and repartition the hard disk on the next screen. If there is data corruption on the disk that led to restoring the computer, I recommend using this option. After making the selecting on whether to format and repartition the disks, click Next.
19. The next to last step before the system image is restored asks users to confirm that they have chosen the system image they wish to use for the recovery. After confirming the information, click on Finish.
20. After confirming the system image information, System Recovery asks users if they are sure they want to continue. All data on the drives to be restored will be replaced with the data from the system image.
21. After clicking Yes on the previous step, System Recovery will start the restore process using the selected system image.
22. Once the restore process has completed, the computer will need to restart. Users can either click the Restart now option or they can let the timer run down and then the PC will automatically restart.
At this point, users should be able to log in to the computer. The computer configuration will be the same as it was when the system image was created. Any changes made to the configuration after the system image was saved will need to be made again if needed.
In today’s article, I looked at creating and restoring system images in Windows 8.1. System images are primarily used when the system is not functional because of software issues. Using a system image can be a good way to resolve issues that are preventing a computer from booting up normally but users need to keep in mind that this backup type does not allow users to select what is restored. Any software that was installed or removed after the system image was created will need redone. As always, please let me know if there are any questions, comments, or concerns by either posting below or emailing me at the link in my bio.