Categories
Windows 8.1

How To: Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image

Continuing our theme of backup and recovery options in Windows 8.1, today we’re going to show you how to restore your computer using a System Image. In order to restore from a System Image, you’ll first need to [intlink id=”7105″ type=”post”]Create A System Image in Windows 8.1[/intlink]. You will also need to [intlink id=”7199″ type=”post”]Create A Windows 8.1 Recovery Drive[/intlink]. We’ll use the Recovery Drive to boot your computer into Windows 8.1 Troubleshooting options.

How To Boot To Windows 8.1 Troubleshooting Options

First, you’ll need to plug in your Rescovery Drive into a USB port on your computer. If you used an external hard drive to create your System Image, it will also need to be plugged in. If you stored your System Image on a Network Location, make sure that device is online and connected to your network.

Start your computer and immediately select the Boot Menu option. All computers should have a boot menu option, but how you access it varies by manufacturer. The most common method is by pressing one of the Function Keys as soon as you see the BIOS/Splash screen. The BIOS/Splash screen will give you instructions on which key to press. Below, I’ve listed the boot menu key for some major manufacturers.

  • HP/Compaq: F9
  • Sony: F10
  • Dell, Lenovo, and Acer: F12
  • Asus: ESC

Once you see the Boot Menu, choose the USB Flash Drive (Not your External Hard Drive) that contains your Recovery Drive and your computer will boot into Windows Troubleshooting Options.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image

The first screen you’ll see asks you to choose your keyboard layout.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Choose Keyboard Layout
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Choose Keyboard Layout

Next you’ll click on Troubleshoot.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Choose An Option
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Choose An Option

Then click Advanced Options

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Troubleshoot
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Troubleshoot

Click System Image Recovery

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Advanced Options
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Advanced Options

Windows 8.1 will now search your plugged in storage devices for a System Image. The most recent System Image will be selected by default. If you’d like to choose an earlier System Image, you can choose Select A System Image and click Next.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Select A System Image Backup
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Select A System Image Backup

The next screen gives you additional restore options. Most users won’t need to select anything on this screen. If you have multiple hard drives and multiple partitions on your computer, you have the option to delete and format all hard drives and partitions. Normally this is not recommended. Click Next to continue.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Choose Additional Restore Options
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Choose Additional Restore Options

The last screen shows a summary of the System Image you are about to Restore. Make sure everything looks correct and then click Finish. 

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Re-Image Your Computer
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Re-Image Your Computer

You’ll receive a final warning that the System Image will overwrite everything on the targeted disk(s). Click Yes to begin the restore process.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Re-Image Your Computer
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Re-Image Your Computer

Depending on the size of the System Image, the entire restore process can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Re-Image Your Computer
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Re-Image Your Computer

When the restore is complete, your computer will reboot.

How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image - Re-Image Your Computer
How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image – Re-Image Your Computer

The System Image restore is now complete and your computer is an exact replica of the System Image file.

System Image is by the far the quickest way to get a crashed computer up and running again. Since a System Image is an exact copy of your hard drive(s), it contains all of your programs, files, documents, settings, etc. Your backup plan should include creating System Images on a regular basis.  System Images are a great way to restore your entire system, but you cannot restore individual files or documents using a System Image. You should combine your System Image backups with regular file backups using [intlink id=”7025″ type=”post”]Windows 8.1 File History[/intlink]. This will give you the ability to restore your entire system or just a few files that may have been lost.

Questions about How To Restore Windows 8.1 With A System Image?

What questions do you have about Restoring Windows 8.1 With A System Image? Please ask your questions below in the comment section and I’ll be sure to answer them.

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Categories
Windows 8.1

Create A System Image in Windows 8.1

How To Create A System Image in Windows 8.1

Yes, a System Image backup is still available in Windows 8.1. Yes, Microsoft did hide it pretty well. With cloud storage becoming prevalent, Microsoft is moving (pushing?) users away from the conventional PC backup. Only a few years ago, everyone was encouraged to keep meticulous backups. In the event of a drive failure or a particularly insidious virus, unless you had good backups, your data was lost. Microsoft’s current idea is that users should be storing their documents, pictures, music, etc. in the cloud. If you lose a hard drive or have some other type of failure, the OS can be restored, legacy programs re-installed (Cloud Apps require little if any installation), and you can find everything else you need in SkyDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, etc. It sure does sound nice, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I rely on the cloud heavily. I store as much as possible in Google Drive. I use Google Docs exclusively, I haven’t used Microsoft Office in years. However, whether it’s out of habit or laziness, I still have files on my desktop. I have PDF files that haven’t quite made it to Google Drive. I have notes that were typed in Notepad that I haven’t put into Evernote yet. I have archived files from an old computer that I haven’t moved to my NAS storage. In other words, I still need good backups (and to optimize some of my workflows!).

In addition to backing up with the [intlink id=”7025″ type=”post”]Windows 8 File History[/intlink] feature, which works well and allows you to easily [intlink id=”7091″ type=”post”]Restore Your Files[/intlink], I like to create an entire System Image once per month. Let’s look at how that is done in Windows 8.1.

Begin by opening the Control Panel and then clicking on File History. In the lower left hand corner of the File History window, you’ll see System Image Backup.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - File History
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – File History

When you click on System Image Backup, a new window will open and you’ll be presented with three options for where you’d like to store your system image.

  • On a hard disk
  • On one or more DVDs
  • On a network location

Note: You cannot store a System Image on your System or C: drive. You will need a second hard drive or an external hard drive.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - Create A System Image
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – Create A System Image

How To Store A System Image On A Network Location

To store your system image on a network location, select the appropriate radio button and then click Select to browse for the location. You may also need to enter network credentials to connect to the device.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - Create A System Image
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – Create A System Image

Click OK and then you’ll be back at the initial Create A System Image window, with the network location filled in.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - Create A System Image
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – Create A System Image

Click Next and you’ll be presented with a screen confirming all of your settings. This screen will also give you the approximate size of the System Image. Click Start Backup and Windows will begin creating the System Image. Note: Windows will not allow more than one System Image per disk. If there is an existing System Image on the disk you are trying to backup to, you will need to delete it before creating a new one.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - Create A System Image
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – Create A System Image

Finally, you’ll see a Create A System Image window with a status bar indicating the progress. The System Image backs up everything on your computer, as a result the files can be very, very large. If you are backing up to a network location, I highly suggest you use a wired (instead of wireless) connection to your network and give your computer overnight to complete the task.

Create A System Image - Windows 8.1 - Create A System Image
Create A System Image – Windows 8.1 – Create A System Image

What questions do you have about creating a System Image? Please post in the comment section below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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