How to Backup Your Operating System


The Microsoft Windows 7 operating system comes with a utility that creates of a full system image to back up the operating system and files. The image allows the computer to be recovered in case of a hard drive crash or corruption, and even allows a bare metal installation to a new computer. The system image can be created onto an external hard drive or blank DVDs, and the restore process does not require any additional steps to set up the computer after running. Learn how to create a system image backup for the Windows 7 operating system.

Things You'll Need

  • Secondary or external hard drive or blank DVD discs
  • Log off or restart the computer and log in as the administrator or as a user that has administrator privileges if necessary.

  • Click "Start" (Windows Orb) and right-click on "Computer." Click "Properties" and click "System Protection" from the side bar menu. Click "Create" under "Protection Settings" to create a system restore point. Name the restore point and click "Create." Exit the system protection window and close any other windows that are open.

  • Click "Start" and "Computer" and right click on the main system drive, typically drive "C" and click "Properties" from the context menu. Click "Disk Cleanup" on the "General" tab. Allow the disk cleanup process to scan the computer. Check each check box on the resulting page and click "OK" to clean up temporary and unwanted files. Click "Delete Files" when prompted. Do not close the Properties window.

  • Click the "Tools" tab of the "Properties" window and click "Check Now" under the "Error Checking" section. Click to check the "Scan For and Attempt Recovery of Bad Sectors" and ensure the check box is checked for "Automatically Fix File System Errors." Click "Start" to continue. Click "Schedule Disk Check" when the dialog warns that Windows can't check the disk while it's in use. Close all windows and restart the computer, and allow the disk checking process to complete. This may take more than an hour, depending upon the system speed and size of the hard drive.

  • Log in as Administrator or a user who has administrator privileges.

  • Click "Start" and "Control Panel." Click "Back Up Your Computer" from the "System and Security" section.

  • Click "Create a System Image" from the side bar on the left side of the window. Click on the radio button next to the desired destination for the system image and click "Next" to continue. Click "Start Backup" after reviewing the settings and making a note of the anticipated size of the backup.

  • Insert blank DVD discs as prompted if using the optical drive for a destination. Label each disc in the order it is used.

Tips & Warnings

  • The system image may be created without creating a system restore point, running disk cleanup or the disk check but these processes are recommended to ensure the information being backed up is in good condition.
  • Store the backup in a location away from the computer, preferably in a remote location in a different building to prevent catastrophic data loss due to a natural disaster or other major event such as a fire or theft.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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