You will eventually need to perform a system recovery in Windows. It’s only a matter of time. The easiest way to do this is with a Windows image. A Windows image will have you back up in minutes, as opposed to hours trying to reinstall with recovery DVDs. An image is a copy of everything on your computer–data, applications, and system files.
Preferably, you would create a Windows image just after you get your computer running the way you like it–with all components and applications installed, and with all security updates in place. Once you have that initial, pristine image copied, you can perform periodic imaging of your computer. So when you choose to re-image your PC you can pick which image is best for you.
How To Create An Image With Windows 8.1
There is a lot of great, free imaging software available out there, such as Macrium Reflect. But Windows has this feature built-in. To create an image, you will either need a large external USB drive or have a second internal hard drive installed. While you can copy the image to another partition on the same drive, we do not recommend it.
To begin, navigate to Start button>Control Panel>System and Security>File History.
In the lower left-hand area of the screen, select System Image Backup.
Next, select the location where you will save your image. You have the option of a hard disk (either external or internal), DVDs (not recommended), or a Network Location.
Once you choose the location, Windows will inform you of the amount of disk space that will be used and the drives that will be backed up. Choose Start Backup to begin.
How To Restore A Windows 8.1 Image
Once you have your image copied, you can use it to recover your system in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure or if you system becomes unstable or is infected with malware.
To restore your Windows 8.1 system image, do the following:
Make sue the drive containing your backup is connected to the computer. If Windows is already on the computer, navigate to PC Settings>Update and Recovery>Recovery and click the Restart Now button under Advanced Startup.
Note: To get to PC Settings, move your mouse to the upper right corner of the screen to activate the charms area. Click the Settings gear. At the bottom of the screen, select Change PC Settings.
If this is a new drive, you will need to boot to a Windows 8 install disk. If booting to the install disk, select “Repair your computer.”
Next, click the Troubleshoot tile.
In the Troubleshoot section, select Advanced Options.
Lastly, click the System Image Recovery tile and follow the onscreen prompts to restore your saved Windows 8.1 image.
A Windows Image Is Important
While having recovery disks are great, they often do not work. If you have a major brand name such as Dell, HP or Lenovo, you likely have a recovery partition on your computer. But our forums are full of questions from people who also have issues with this type of recovery. We recommend you take a moment and create your own recovery partition. If you ever need to restore your Windows installation, you will have your very own recovery option at your fingertips.