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What Is A System Image? Everything You Need to Know About Creating System Image Backups

Updated by Gemma on Feb 16, 2022
Written by Jean

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

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 everthing, including Windows OS, your system settings, executables, 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.

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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.

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#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.

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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:

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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

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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

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Updated by Gemma

Gemma is member of EaseUS team and has been committed to creating valuable content in fields about file recovery, partition management, and data backup etc for many years. She loves to help users solve various types of computer related issues.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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Product Reviews

TrustScore 4.7 | 47 reviews
  • Taking everything into consideration, we can say that EaseUS Todo Backup Home can offer you a little extra sense of security with a set of advanced tools. The interface provides quick adaptation, every process guiding you all the way through so you don't get stuck or further damage your system rather than keeping it safe.

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  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free lets you create backups of your important files or your entire computer through its streamlined interface. Just choose the backup type you'd like to get started, and let the program do the reset.

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  • EaseUS includes all the features I expect from backup software like versioning, incremental backups, and scheduling. For more advanced users, EaseUS allows you to install a pre-boot environment onto your hard drive so you can use it to restore files without burning a CD or putting it on an external USB drive.

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