Disk imaging software allows you to make an exact copy of your Windows installation so you can quickly restore it at a later time. This is different from a backup, as this takes it all–Windows, applications, data–everything that is on the partition you are making an image of. Normal backups will grab files you specify or roll everything up in a big blob you cannot restore until Windows is reinstalled. Having disk imaging software allows you to quickly get back to a running state, without all of the hassles of installing your applications, not to mention Windows and its own authentication process. But it is important to have a good disk imaging strategy when creating your first copy.
Before you create a disk image, start over
It is advisable to completely wipe your Windows installation and reinstall. This way you know you’re imaging a system that is virus-free. Next, install all of your applications and update Windows as far as you can. Also, make sure you have updated drivers and setup your email, favorites, etc. Once all of this work is done, install your disk imaging software and make an image. Your new image can be on the same hard drive if you partition it in advance. But we recommend you have the image on a second hard drive in the computer. Some imaging programs will even let you use an external drive, which is even better.
Re-image your drive every couple of years or sooner. You will no doubt be installing a lot of applications and updating your computer. When you get to a certain point, you know you’ll want to restart the entire process and image the drive again. This means reinstalling the first image, updating Windows to the latest patch-level and installing any new applications that were not a part of the first copy.
It seems like a lot of work, but imaging can save you time and allow you to reinstall more frequently. As you know, each time you reinstall the image, your PC will run like new again. There are several different imaging programs we like. They all will do about the same thing, so consider price and make sure your system is supported when making any decision:
Acronis True Image (acronis.com)
Image For Windows (terabyteunlimited.com)