The inevitable crash will hit when you least expect it, and when it happens it you should be prepared. If not for yourself, do it for anyone who comes to help fix your computer, like Techaroo :)
It's extremely helpful that Windows provides a few different backup options built in, File History and System Image Backups. In a previous article, we covered File History and how to backup your files and folders with revisions. In this article, we will guide you through a step by step walk-through on how to backup your entire system. The different between the two is File History creates revisions of each file and folder configured, whereas, System Image creates exactly that, a complete copy of your computer, but also allows you to restore files and folders, without revisions.
The majority of people will be satisfied with File History simply because users are mostly only interested in making sure their important data is safe and what happens to the computer is often overlook. For more advanced users or technicians a system image is a massive time saver because with an up-to-date image the process of restoration is reduced dramatically. Being able to restore a computer to a last known running backup means you're saving time by not having to reinstall operating systems, applications such as Microsoft Office and restoring personalised settings like bookmarks. Whan you save time, you save money. Would you prefer Techaroo spent 3 hours rebuilding your machine from scratch or 1 hour restoring from a system backup? We have a good idea which one looks more appealing.
There are two parts to this guide, the first is the actual system image, and the second is the file and folder backups.
Let's begin, and hopefully, this won't be too complicated to follow.
Opening The Application
- Click the Cortana icon - that's the little white circular icon on the taskbar. Note: If the icon does not appear, then you can enable it directly from the desktop by simply right clicking on the taskbar > Cortana > Show Cortana Icon.
- Next, navigate to the Home icon -> Settings -> Backup and Restore (Windows 7)
Configure Your Files, Folders and Schedule Settings
From the Backup and Restore window, you will need to Setup a backup, however, if you already had a backup configured you can change the settings by clicking on Change settings. The same instructions below apply to both options.
- Select the drive destination you wish to backup your copies too. This should be an external USB drive or at least a second drive that is not part of your Windows operating system. If you wish, you can also save your files to a network drive, however, we will not go into detail with this method as it is a bit advanced for this walk-through.
- You will be presented with two options, one is Let Windows choose (recommended) and the other is Let me choose. We will select the second one as it allows the user to choose individual drives, files and folders to be included in the backup.
- On the following screen, you will have the option to select or deselect various libraries and/or drive letters with subfolders. Feel free to customise this as you wish. We do recommend you backup all your user libraries, such as Documents Library and Pictures Library. The most important checkbox to make sure remains checked is Include a system image of drives. This is critical data for you or anyone technical that wishes to restore your machine.
- Clicking Next will give you a summary of your selections, and allow you to Change schedule of your backup. You can set How often, What day and What time you would like the backup to run. It is recommended to run backups when you are not using your machine. This not only dedicates the machine for backups, but it will avoid any changes to the system during it's scheduled backup.
Creating A System Image
Creating an image is probably as important as backing up your files and folder.
- On the Backup and Restore window, click on Create a system image
- Select On a hard disk as your backup destination, however, you are welcome to select any of the other options. We will cover hard disk backups.
- On the Next screen, you can specify which other hard disks you want to include in your recovery images.
- If a popup mentions you have disk errors it is advisable to follow the instructions in order to scan your disks, but for our demonstration purposes, we Ignored this warning.
- The Next summary screen will let you know exactly what is going to happen once you press Start backup
Restoring Your Files
You're probably wondering how you're going to use these backups. Well, the easiest method is again through the application.
- Select Restore my files at the bottom of the window
- Select Browse for folders or files if you wish.
Add folder you want to restore
- Pressing Next will ask you where you want to restore the folder too, it can be in its original location or In the following location. For this demonstration, we selected in a custom location.
Once complete you can View your restored files