A system image is a backup of the partitions required for computer to run. Usually, a system image backup is a compressed file that contains operating system, boot sectors, custom settings and all programs installed & files saved on those partitions. Therefore, you can restore computer from a system image backup if Windows failed to boot or hard drive died. Normally, a system image is equal to a backup of C drive, but not all. In most situations, it also includes a backup of System Reserved Partition or EFI System Partition (ESP).
Sometimes a system image is equal to a disk image, but sometimes is not. For example, let’s assume there is only one internal disk in your computer and the partition layout is [C: drive][D: drive][E: drive]. In such case, a system image will backup only C: drive, however, a disk image will backup C: drive, D: drive and E: drive. If there is only C: drive on the disk, then the system image is equal to disk image.
A system image is very useful for OS development, data backup and hardware upgrade, etc.
A system image utility named Backup and Restore was first introduced by Microsoft in Windows 7. In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, they have moved the function under File History. However, either of them has some limitations. For example, you cannot set up multiple schedules; you cannot save a system image to a flash drive; the disk saving system image must be formatted as NTFS, etc. Some third-party free backup software like AOMEI Backupper can break those limits and make system image backup easy.
1: Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Move your mouse pointer to "Backup" and click on it. Then, choose "System Backup" from the right list.
2: First, you are able to edit the default "Task Name". At "Step1", you will find the program has automatically chosen the partitions required for a system image. This is good for green hands who don't know which drives need to be backed up when creating a system image.
At "Step2", the program also has automatically selected a location where to save system image backup. You can click on it to choose another location. To save a system image to a local disk, an external hard drive, a USB flash drive or CD/DVD, please click "This PC" (or "Computer") and choose the destination. You can also save a system image to NAS devices or network share by clicking "Share/NAS".
3: You have almost finished. However, to ensure your system image is up-to-date, you'd better to create a scheduled system image backup by ticking the checkbox before "Schedule". Here you can create multiple schedules at the same time, such as daily, weekly and monthly. After clicking "Advanced", you can choose how to schedule the system image from full backup, incremental backup or differential backup.
Besides, you can configure backup settings by clicking "Backup Options". For example, write a comment, encrypt the system image with a password and compress the system image with a higher level, etc.
4: The "Schedule" or "Backup Options" is optional according to your requirements. You can skip the Step 3 and directly click "Start Backup" after choosing the location where to save system image.
AOMEI Backupper provides fast and flexible system image recovery solutions: