How To: Create a System Image in Windows 8.1

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Keeping system image backups stored on an external drive or optical media can be extremely useful. Reinstalling Windows 8.1 doesn’t take very long but when you add the time spent installing hardware drivers and your applications it turns into a few wasted hours.

However, reimaging your PC is done within minutes and it’s a perfect solution for migrating to a new hard drive. Before Windows 7, there was no system image tool built-into Windows operating systems so there are lots of third-party applications with similar capabilities.

Before jumping to get one of those, give the built-in tool a try. Unless you want advanced features to tinker with, you’ll probably be satisfied with it.

1. The first thing you need to do is locate and open the System Image Backup option. If you’ve updated your system to 8.1 from Windows 8, know that the system image tool has been moved to a different location (read our tutorial on how to find the system image tool in Windows 8.1).

2. You should now have the Create a System Image window open. First, choose the location of your backup. It can be a hard drive be it external or internal, one or more DVDs or on a network location. Choose your setting and hit the Next button.

Create a System Image - Select Location

3. Now you have to select which drives should be included in the system image tools. By default, Windows 8.1 will select its own drives. Once you’ve made your selections click or tap on the Next button.

Create a System Image - Select Drives

4. The last step is confirming all your backup settings before the actual creation process starts. Click or tap on the Start backup button to create your system image.

Create a System Image - Confirm backup settings