Allan Didier

Imaging with Windows Backup


Windows Backup tool can do multiple tasks. 

  1. Backup files
  2. Create a system image
  3. Restore a system image.
  4. Create a recovery disk

Full System Image

Doing a full backup of Windows requires a few steps and you have to plan things before you even install Windows. 

1. Partition Hard Drive

In order to create an image of the OS, you need to have a location to store the image. If you are going to use one hard drive for both Windows and the Image file, you need to create space for the Image file before you install Windows. 

  1. Boot off of the Windows install disk
  2. Delete all partitions on the drive
  3. Create a partition for Windows (split the drive in half).  Leave the second half of the drive “Unallocated Space”.
  4. Install Windows on the first partition. Windows will automatically split this partition into two partitions.
    1. A 100 Mb System Restore partition. We will use this partition later.
    2. Another partition roughly the size you stated where Windows will be installed.

2. Install Windows

Install Windows on the “first” partition of the hard drive as above. Install drivers, software, network and anything else you need on the computer. 

3. Prepare Image Drive

During installation, you left the second (or third) partition of the drive as “unpartitioned space”. We need to change that now.

  1. Boot into the Windows Desktop
  2. Run Computer Management. Either search for it or find it in the Administrative Control Panels.
  3. Run Disk Management from the Storage section of Computer Management
  4. Create an NTFS partition with the “unpartitioned space”. 
    1. Right click on the “unpartitioned space” or other partition. 
    2. Choose Create New Simple Volume
    3. Use all the available space.
    4. Assign a drive letter. Use default one.
    5. Format with NTFS. Windows backup needs it NTFS. Clonezilla, on the other, needs this partition formatted exFat.
  5. Rename the Partition: Image. Right click on the partition, choose Properties and rename it. 
  6. Go to Windows Explorer and you should see this new Image partition.

4. Create Image

Next, you need to make a copy of Windows and save it to an image file. 

  1. Run Backup and Restore. Either search for it or look in the System and Security Control Panel.
  2.  Choose “Create System Image” from the left side menu options.
  3.  Under the “On a hard disk” section choose the Image partition you created above.
    1. You can also save the image to a jump drive or CD/DVD as well.
    2. Image files are often very large (>10 Gb) so you need a large drive to hold them. CD/DVDs are often not big enough. 
  4. Confirm your settings and Start Backup. This will take about 15+ minutes depending of how much information is stored on the Windows partition.

5. Confirm the Image

Once the Backup is done, you want to make sure the backup worked. The only real test is to restore from the backup, but you may not want to do this until it is needed. To get an idea if the image file was created properly you compare the size of the data in the Image folder to that of the Windows partition. They should be roughly the same size. The Image file is compressed, so it should take up a bit less than the Windows partition. For example, if the Windows partition is 20 Gb, the Image file should be ~15 Gb. If the Image file is only 100 Kb or so, the imaging process did not work. 

  1. Determine how much space is being used on the Windows partition.
    1. In Windows Explorer, get the properties of the C: drive.
    2. Note how much space is being used (not how much space there is total). 
  2. Determine the size of the image file.
    1. In Windows Explorer, open the Image partition. 
    2. Get the properties of the Image Partition.
    3. Does the size of the Image partition somewhat match the size of the Windows Partition? The Image partition should be smaller than the Windows partition (three-quarters to half the size) because it is compressed. Both should be in the Gigabyte range.

6. Create System Repair Disk

In order to restore the image from a total Windows breakdown (you can’t get the the Desktop), you need a System Repair Disk. The Repair Disk is a bootable disk, like the Windows Install disk. In Backup and Restore, click on Create a System Repair Disk from the left side. Our version of Windows 7 can only create a CD/DVD disk, but newer version should be able to create bootable jump drives. 

7. Recover Windows (Push the Image)

You can recover Windows one of two ways, depending on what has happened to your computer. If you can boot into Windows, you can recover the system from Backup and Restore. If you cannot boot into Windows, you need to use the System Repair Disk.

  1. Recover Windows from Backup and Restore
    1. Boot into Windows and run Backup and Restore. 
    2. Choose Recover system settings or your computer. 
    3. Open System Restore
    4. Choose your restore point
    5. Let it run and reboot. Windows should be restored back to the point when the Image file was created.
  2. Recover Windows from the Windows System Repair Disk
    1. Boot from the System Repair disk. You may have to change the Bios settings to boot from CD.
    2.  Choose “Use recovery tools that can help…”
    3. Your Operating System located on the Image partition should be listed. If it is not, you are out of luck.
    4. Choose Next and wait for Windows to re-install
    5. Reboot into Windows.

Backup Files

You can also use the Backup and Restore control panel to just backup files on your computer. This will not back up Windows, but it can back up your documents, pictures, movies, and other files. You do this so that you can recover your files if you accidentally delete files, need to get back to an old copy, or need to re-install Windows without losing your work. You choose what folders to backup and it will create a copy of those files to your extra partition. We won’t use this tool in class, but it is a useful tool to know about.