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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Categories
Windows 8.1

Restore Files With Windows 8 File History

Now that we know what [intlink id=”7025″ type=”post”]Windows 8 File History[/intlink] is, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of File History and learn how to restore files with Windows 8 File History in the event of a crash, deleted file, corrupt file, etc.

How To Restore Files With Windows 8 File History?

To begin, open up File History from the Control Panel. In the left hand column you’ll see the option for Restore Personal Files.

Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History

Now you’ll be presented with a new window that shows all of the folders from which you can restore files with Windows 8 File History.

  • First, in the upper left, you’ll see a time and date stamp. The time and date-stamp indicate that the files and folders listed below are available to be restored to the condition that they were in at that particular time.
  • Second, at the top of the window in the center, you’ll see the number of versions available in File History. In this example I have 31 different versions available for me to restore.
  • Third, at the bottom of the window, you’ll see three buttons. The left and right arrows will scroll through the different versions of your files. The center button, the curved arrow, will restore the selected files and folders.
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> Restore Files
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> Restore Files

In this example, you can see that we’ve used the left arrow button to scroll back to an earlier time-stamp in my File History. From here we can pick the files and/or folders that we want to restore.

Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> Restore Files
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> Restore Files

Now that you’ve decided from when you want to restore, navigate through the available files and folders to find exactly what you want to restore. Once you’ve located your files and folders, simply highlight the file/folder you want to restore and then click the restore button.

Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> Restore Files
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> Restore Files

If you’re restoring an earlier version of a file that still exists in the same location on your computer, you’ll be presented with a few options:

  • If you want to replace the existing file with the previous version, just click Replace.
  • If you only want to restore files that no longer exist on your computer, click Skip This File and newer files on your computer will not be replaced.
  • Finally, you can click Compare Info For Both Files to see more information, such as time-stamps and file size, to help make your decision. Make your selection and then click Continue. Note: you have the option to keep the existing file and also restore the version from File History. In this case, Windows will append a number to the end of the restored file.
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> Replace or Skip Files
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> Replace or Skip Files
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> File Conflict
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> File Conflict

If the file that you chose to restore, no longer exists in the same location on your computer. You’ll see a file copy window that gives you status information on the restore. Once the file copy is complete, your file has been restored and is ready for use.

Restore Files With Windows 8 File History - File History -> Restore Process
Restore Files With Windows 8 File History – File History -> Restore Process

Should I Use Windows 8 File History

So all of this information is great, but should we really use Windows 8 File History or are there better options out there? You’ll find countless debates all over the internet discussing pro’s and con’s of File History. I’ll make it really simple, Windows 8 File History is a good backup option for the average user. Notice I said good and not great. File History does have some downsides. It struggles with files that have been renamed. It doesn’t have the option to immediately backup changed files. It only backs up files and folders that are in your User account’s Libraries.

For most users the upside (a consistent backup that requires no user involvement…and it’s free!) will far outweigh any of the shortcomings in File History. However, more advanced users with critical data will want to look elsewhere for a more robust backup solution. We’ll be reviewing some of these options in upcoming posts.

Bottom line: any backup solution is better than no backup solution. As the saying goes, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Questions About How To Restore Files With Windows 8 File History?

What questions do you have about restoring your files with File History? Post questions and in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer them.

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Categories
Windows 8.1

Windows 8 File History

What Is Windows 8 File History?

For everything that is wrong with Windows 8, there are several things Microsoft did right. The new File History feature is one of those things. File History has its roots in Previous Versions, a  similar feature found in Windows 7 along with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003. Windows 8 has taken the relatively unknown Previous Versions, made it more robust, slapped a new name on it, and brought it to the forefront. Mac Users will recognize File History as being very similar to Time Machine in OS X.

What Is Versioning?

The beauty of File History is that it uses a technology called Versioning. Whenever you make a change to a file and save it, a new version of that file is created. Versioning allows you to revert back to previous iterations of your file. Imagine a scenario where you accidentally made changes to a template that your company uses on a regular basis. File History gives you the option to see the previous versions of the file in question and allows you to pick which one you would like to restore. If you change your mind and decide you want the most current version, you can simply restore again.

What Does File History Backup?

File History looks at your User folders and takes hourly (by default) snapshots of your files. The files are then saved to another hard drive or a network storage location. File History does not backup your entire computer, it only looks at files and folders under your user profile. These folders include: Libraries (including Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos), Desktop, Favorites, and offline OneDrive files/folders. Within these locations, you can Exclude Folders if you choose.

How Do I Open File History?

To open File History, first open the Control Panel and then click on File History.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - Control Panel
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – Control Panel

How Do I Turn On File History?

The next step is to turn on File History. If you already have an external hard drive plugged in, it will most likely show up in the Copy Files To area. If that’s the case you can simply click Turn On and File History will go to work and begin copying your files.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - File History
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – File History

If you don’t see your external hard drive listed, or would like to use a Network Location, click the Select Drive option. You can now choose the appropriate drive or select a network location for your backup.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - File History -> Select Drive
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – File History -> Select Drive

Once File History has been turned on the header will turn green and you’ll see a message indicating that your files are being copied.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - File History
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – File History

How Do I Exclude Folders From File History?

Excluding folders from File History is simple. Click on Exclude Folders and you’ll have the option of adding folders that you do not wish to backup.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - File History -> Exclude Folders
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – File History -> Exclude Folders

How Do I Customize My File History Settings?

Advanced Settings allows you to customize your File History settings. You can change the interval that File History uses, anywhere from 10 minutes to once per day. You can choose a size limit for your File History cache, settings range from 2% up to 20% of available disk space. Finally you can choose how long to keep older versions of your files. For this option you can choose Until Space Is Needed or Forever. There are also time-based options that range from 1 month to 2 years.

Screenshot - Windows 8.1 - File History -> Advanced Settings
Screenshot – Windows 8.1 – File History -> Advanced Settings

File History is a great tool to keep your files safe. Once setup, it works silently in the background without requiring any interaction from users.

Questions about Windows 8 File History?

What questions do you have about File History? Post questions and in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer them.

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