Why System Image and Repair Disk?
If something in life is very important and you don’t want to lose it, making a copy or clone of it and keeping it in a safe place is a sensible thing to do, provided it is realistic and the world permits you to do so. In case you lose the original, you always have the duplicate to put in place and recover some of the loss if not all. This is where Windows 7 backup options come into play.
Windows 7 comes with an integrated backup and restore feature that can save you from lot of troubles in those situations when your PC’s hard drive suddenly crashes, or your computer is invaded by nasty viruses or malware, like Flame for example. Along with performing many other harmful activities, a Flame like malware can also delete all the files and programs of your hard drive, once it loses interest on you. You would be left with nothing when that happens except a cluster of hardware in front of you. You can manage this dreadful disaster if you have all your data and programs backed up properly on multiple locations in advance, in the form of a system image.
To make the best use of this backup and restore feature, you also need to be well equipped to create the system image and save it on numerous locations. More than one location is preferred to ensure redundancy, just in case the 1st duplicate also fails, the 2nd one could be called upon. These days as operating systems are getting larger in size day by day, you wouldn’t be able to create a system image in a DVD disk which has a capacity of only about 4.5GB. You need about 15 GB minimum and preferably 40-50 GB space to create the image that will include all your required system files, programs and data that you need. You can always choose which logical drives you want to add in this image and which one not to, based on your needs and the storage capacity you can provide to this backup process.
If you have one of those fancy Blue-Ray DVD writer with a blank double layer DVD disk of capacity 50 GB – that will be great! Or else, you should opt for a tape drive or a high capacity external hard drive or a network drive allowing you to save large volume of data. Once you have one or more solid backup media available to create the system image, carry out the following steps on your Windows 7 PC.
Create System Image
1. Go to “Start Menu” – “All Programs” – “Maintenance” – and then click “Backup and Restore” as shown in image 1. You will get into the backup and restore screen.
2. Now click on the “Create a system image” option on the right hand side of the screen as shown in image 2.
3. Choose “Yes” to proceed on the window’s user account security dialog box.
4. You will reach the system image creation screen as shown in image 3. Here you will see several options asking you to choose the destination drive to save the image based your PC’s configuration. If you have a tape drive or an external hard drive, the system will also show those options in addition to the basic options shown in image 3.
5. Here you select your preferred option. If you want to save the system image in a network location, choose the 3rd option and select the exact location of the network by hitting the “browse” button. If you want to save it in an external hard drive, choose the option linked to your external hard drive and then click “next”.
6. Now you will see the drive selection screen asking you to select the logical drives that you want to include in your system image. By default, the logical drive associated with your system (OS) will be selected already. For example, I have Windows 7 installed in my C drive, so it is already selected by default in image 4.
7. If you have Windows installed in your D drive, Drive D will be selected instead. Here you can add more logical drives if you want to back them up as well. You can have a look at the “used space” column to get an idea of how much storage space you need in the destination drive. For example, with the default selections showing in image 4, about 17 GB (16.18+29.81) space will be necessary to create this image. If you add the G drive, additional 1.96 GB will be required. Since I don’t keep a lot of data and programs in my laptop, I will only need about 20 GB of space in the network to create a system image for myself as shown in the image. But your case could be totally different! You might have loads of things in your PC and in that case it is better to put all your important files let’s say in the G drive and then select G drive to include also in the system image. After you have done making selections and choosing destination drive, hit “next”.
8. A confirmation screen will appear to get your confirmation about the selections you have made. Hit “Start Backup” button next. Depending on the size of the image and the nature of the destination media, backup process may take somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes. Once the process ends, you have a system image that could be really useful in a crisis situation in the future.
Create a System Repair Disk to Boot and Restore Windows
You can also create a system repair disk on the same backup and restore screen. A repair disk normally needs very little space; an empty DVD or CD should be more than enough to create a repair disc.
- Just put it in your DVD writer and then choose “Create a System Repair Disk” option as shown in image 5.
- Then click “next” – “Yes” to confirm – “and Create Disc” options to complete the process. Mark the disk as a “System Repair Disk” and keep it in a safe place too.
- You will need this to boot your computer if your system crashes and then easily restore your Windows by selecting the restore option.
- You will need to plug in the system image drive into your PC and then point the restore program to this designated location where the image is placed.
- Also see how to create a multi version Windows USB bootable drive.