Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Create System Image Launch EaseUS Todo Backup on your computer...Full steps
Fix 1. Restore Computer Launch EaseUS Todo Backup, click "Browse...Full steps

Is a system image the same as a backup? A system image, in short, is a snapshot or an exact copy of an entire hard drive. A system image is a complete backup of everything on your computer's hard drive, so it saves everything, including Windows OS, your system settings, executable files, installed programs and all other files. The biggest advantage of a system image is that if a hard drive crashes or the computer stops working, you can easily restore everything back the way it was, with no need to reinstall Windows and applications.

backup computer

A System Image Essentials

You may take a look at some essential aspects of creating a system image on your hard drive, and following the proper way to restore a computer from a created system image.

#1. A system image is a file with the same file size of the backups

Since a system image is eventually a file that contains the content on a PC's hard dive, or just from one single partition, its file size is just the same of the used disk space. For example, if you have 200GB of space used on a 500GB hard drive, the system image will be around 200GB. But not for the case you compress the system image to a smaller size.

Windows inbuilt backup programs would not be able to compress a system image, the ability of file compression is basically found in professional third-party backup and recovery utilities, e.g., EaseUS Todo Backup.

#2. Different backup programs use different types of system images

You can only use the same tool to backup a computer so as to be able to restore the computer from the image backup. Windows creates system images with the .xml and .vhd file extensions, while third-party programs use their own file extensions. To ensure the system image is valid to restore it, you can keep several backup tools but make sure that image A is created by tool A, and image B is by tool B. Each backup image file is independent when it comes to restore.

🎨Related Reading: How to Create an Image Backup in Windows 10 | Create a System Image Backup on Windows 11

How to Create A Reliable System Image for Windows 10/8/7

Windows has its native system image backup solution included in the Backup and Restore feature. But here what we want to share before the default program is a third-party alternative - EaseUS Todo Backup. It's a free Windows backup tool that makes the system backup as easy as one click, and offers unique features over the default program as follows:

What makes the EaseUS disk imaging software the top one choice is not limited to the given free features in backing up the entire operating system, if you require more advanced features, such as restore a system image to a different computer, you can upgrade to a home version to enjoy that.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup on your computer, and click Create Backup on the home screen and then hit the big question mark to select backup contents.

backup outlook mail step1

Step 2. To back up your Windows operating system, click "OS" to begin the backup task.

backup outlook mail step2

Step 3. Your Windows operating system information and all system related files and partitions will be automatically selected so you don't need to do any manual selection at this step. Next, you'll need to choose a location to save the system image backup by clicking the illustrated area.

system backup

Step 4. The backup location can be another local drive on your computer, an external hard drive, network, cloud or NAS. Generally, we recommend you use an external physical drive or cloud to preserve the system backup files. 

backup outlook mail step4

Step 5. Customiztion settings like enabling an automatic backup schedule in daily, weekly, monthly, or upon an event, and making a differential and incremental backup are available in the Options button if you're interested. Click "Backup Now", and the Windows system backup process will begin. The completed backup task will display on the left side in a card style.

backup outlook mail step 5

How to Restore Computer from A System Image

As we describled, you must use the same tool to create and restore a system image to ensure the 100% compatibility. Once you've created a system backup image using EaseUS Todo Backup, in case you have the need to restore a crashed or damaged computer from the system image, follow the guide in the following.

* To perform system recovery on a none-bootable machine, try to boot the computer through the EaseUS Todo Backup emergency disk.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup, click "Browse to Recover".

Click Browse to Recover

Step 2. Guide to your backup destination, choose the system backup file you need. (The backup file created by EaseUS Todo Backup is a pbd file.)

System recovery step2

Step 3. Choose the recovery disk. Make sure that the partition style of the source disk and the recovery disk are the same.

system recovery step3

Step 4. You can customize the disk layout according to your needs. Then click "Proceed" to start system backup recovery.

Sytem recovery step4

FAQ on System Image

What does system image do?

A system image is a snapshot or an exact copy of an entire hard drive. It can save everything, including Windows OS, your system settings, executable files, installed programs, and all other files. If a hard drive crashes or the computer stops working, you can quickly restore everything without reinstalling Windows OS and applications.

What is the difference between a backup and a system image?

A backup is a copy of your files. A system image is an exact copy of everything on your hard drive, including Windows OS, settings, and all other files. 

Was This Page Helpful?

Updated by Larissa

Larissa has rich experience in writing technical articles and is now a professional editor at EaseUS. She is good at writing articles about data recovery, disk cloning, disk partitioning, data backup, and other related knowledge. Her detailed and ultimate guides help users find effective solutions to their problems. She is fond of traveling, reading, and riding in her spare time.

Read full bio

Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

Read full bio