One of the claims with Windows 7 is making your everyday tasks easier.  One of the areas that Microsoft has made much simpler to use is the backup feature in the OS itself.

For anyone who has ever lost data due a hard drive or computer crash and did not have a backup system in place, I am one of these folks myself, then you know how important that backup process is. Especially if it was your significant others computer and it resulted in the loss of irreplaceable files. Again, I am raising my hand right here!

Today I use Windows Home Server to back up my home computers and it takes care of business.  However, not everyone has a Windows Home Server and may be looking for a different method of backing up those critical files on your home PC’s.

One way included in Windows 7 is the Backup Applet in the Control Panel. There are two types of backups available to you. The first is your file by file back up process which you can set to incrementally back up your system each day, week, month etc.

The second one is what I am going to cover today and that is creating a System Image of your Windows 7 installation that can be restored in case of a catastrophic failure of your hard drive which has Windows installed on it.

The process is quite simple, only has a few steps and takes about 30 minutes or so. I base that 30 minutes on my system which backed up 69GB to my extra internal hard drive. Your mileage will vary based on the size of your installation and whether you back up to hard drive or DVD (lots of DVD’s). I recommend an external or spare internal hard drive.

So to get started you need to bring up the backup/restore applet in the control panel which is located at Control Panel>System and Security>Backup and Restore. Easy way to get there is via the Start Menu search bar and just type in Backup.


Select the Create System Image link.


Select the media you want to store your back up on.


Once selected it summarizes what will be backed up. Start the back up.


System Image in the process of being created.


Once the image is created you will be prompted to create a system repair disc that will allow you to restore your system image as well as a few other things top repair your system.


Select the drive to use for creating your repair disc. Notice no hard drive options – that is on purpose.


System repair disc being created.


Final dialog showing the disc is created. Label it and store it in a safe place and hope you never have to pull it out :-)

There ya go – just a handful of steps to have a solid system image of your computer in case of a system crash.  I think this process in combination with a daily file based back up will keep your data safe.