Backup and Restore in Windows 10. As part of your recovery plan, a full backup should be at the top of your list since it is the best strategy against hardware failure, and apps and upgrade problems, as well as malware attacks that can corrupt your files and damage your Windows 10 installation. If you are not proactively creating full backups, you will be putting at risk documents, priceless pictures, and configurations you have spent long hours setting up. You should always create a full backup to safeguard your files and Windows 10 setup. This guide will show you the instructions to complete this task with the System Image Backup tool.
If you use Windows 10, you have many different methods to create a backup. For example, you can use third-party solutions to backup the entire system or copy files to an external drive manually or upload them to a cloud storage service like OneDrive. However, if you do not want to use manual methods or third-party tools, you can always create a full backup using the legacy built-in System Image Backup tool.
A system image is another way to say “full backup,” as it contains a copy of everything on the computer, including the installation, settings, apps, and files. Usually, you will find this tool better suited to restore the entire system from critical hardware or software problems, such as hard drive failure or when trying to roll back to a previous version of Windows 10.
Backup your PC with File History
Use File History to back up to an external drive or network location. Select Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup > Add a drive , and then choose an external drive or network location for your backups.
Restore your files with File History
If you’re missing an important file or folder that you’ve backed up, here’s how to get it back:
- In the search box on the taskbar, type restore files, and then select Restore your files with File History.
- Look for the file you need, then use the arrows to see all its versions.
- When you find the version you want, select Restore to save it in its original location. To save it in a different place, right-click Restore, select Restore to, and then choose a new location.
Find your backups created on previous versions of Windows
If you used Backup and Restore to back up files or create system image backups in previous versions of Windows, your old backup is still available in Windows 10. In the search box on the taskbar, type control panel. Then select Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
How to restore a backup with system image tool on Windows 10
If you need to replace the hard drive or hardware failure occurs, you can use one of the backups to recover the device and files.
To restore a backup on Windows 10, use these steps:
- Connect the drive with the full backup to the device.
- Connect the Windows 10 USB bootable drive to the computer.
- Start the computer.
- On the USB bootable drive startup prompt, press any key to continue.
Quick tip: If the device does not start in the Windows Setup wizard, you will need to access the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) to change the boot order settings. You can use this guide to access the BIOS/UEFI, but the steps are usually different per manufacturer and device model. It is recommended to check your manufacturer support website for more specific details.
- On the “Windows Setup” page, click the Next button.
- Click the Repair your computer option from the bottom-left corner of the screen.
- Click the Troubleshoot option.
- Click the System Image Recovery option.
- Select the Windows 10 option as the target OS.
- On the “Re-image your computer” page, select the Use the latest available system image option.
Quick tip: You can use the “Select a system image” option if you have multiple backups and you are trying to restore an older version of the system and files.
- Click the Next button.
- (Optional) Carefully select the Format and repartition disks option before restoring the backup (if you are restoring the backup on a new drive).
Quick tip: If you choose this option, use the Exclude disks option to prevent formatting secondary drives that may contain data.
- (Optional) Check the** Only restore system drivers** option (if the backup contains a copy of multiple drives and you only want to restore the OS).
- Click the Next button.
- Click the Finish button.
- Click the Yes button.
After you complete the steps, the recovery process will start on the computer. The time to finish the restoration will depend on the amount of data and hardware configuration.
If you are about to restore a device, do not interrupt the process as it can cause the backup to fail, making the device unbootable. It is always recommended to have the laptop connected to a power source and a desktop computer to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to avoid problems.
Once the backup has been restored, open Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and click the Check for Updates button to quickly install any missing security updates.
How to create a backup with system image tool on Windows 10
The system image tool allows you to create a full backup to an external drive or network shared folder. However, it is best to use removable storage, which you can then disconnect and store in a different physical location.
To create a full backup of Windows 10 with the system image tool, use these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Backup.
- Under the “Looking for an older backup?” section, click the Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) option.
- Click the Create a system image option from the left pane.
- Select the On a hard disk option.
- Use the “On a hard disk” drop-down menu and select the location to export the Windows 10 full backup.
- Click the Next button.
- (Optional) Select any additional hard drives to include them in the backup.
- Click the Next button.
- Click the Start backup button.
- Click the No button.
Quick note: You’ll also receive a prompt to create a system repair disc, but because most devices no longer include an optical drive, you can skip it. If you have to restore the machine, you can use a USB installation media to access the recovery enviroment.
- Click the Close button.
Once you complete the steps, the tool will create an image of the entire system that includes everything on the primary hard drive and other drives you may have selected.
While the backup is in progress, you can continue working on the device since it uses the “Shadow Copy” feature to backup files even if files are open and apps are running.
After the process is complete, you can disconnect and store the external drive in a safe place. If you have valuable data, you may want to consider keeping the backup in a different physical location.
Set up a drive for File History
Before you start using File History to back up your files, you need to first select where your backups are saved. You can select an externally connected drive, such as a USB drive, or you can save to a drive on a network. There are other choices, but these two provide the best options to help protect your files against a crash or other PC problems.
File History only backs up copies of files that are in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. If you have files or folders elsewhere that you want backed up, you can add them to one of these folders.
If you’re going to use a new external drive, connect it to your PC. If you see a notification asking if you want to configure the drive for File History, select it, and then turn on File History on the screen the appears.
Otherwise, follow these steps to choose either a network drive or an external drive that’s already connected to your PC.
- Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)
- Enter File History settings in the search box, and then select File History settings.
- Select Select a drive, and choose the network or external drive you want to use.
- Turn on File History.
Note: If the network drive you want isn’t in the list of available drives, select Show all network locations. If the drive you want isn’t listed there either, open File History in Control Panel, select Add a network location, and follow the instructions on the screen.
Restore files or folders using File History
File History regularly backs up versions of your files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. Over time, you’ll have a complete history of your files. If the originals are lost, damaged, or deleted, you can restore them. You can also browse and restore different versions of your files. For example, if you want to restore an older version of a file (even if it wasn’t deleted or lost), you can browse through a timeline, select the version you want, and restore it.
Follow these steps to restore files or folders using File History.
- Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Search (or if you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search), enter restore your files in the search box, and then select Restore your files with File History.
- Enter the name of file you’re looking for in the search box, or use the left and right arrows to browse through different versions of your folders and files.
- Select what you want to restore to its original location, and then select the Restore button.
If you want to restore your files to a different location than the original, press and hold or right-click the Restore button, select Restore To, and then choose a new location.