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how to image a computer

How to image a computer? How to create disk image Windows 10 to protect your computer from a system crash or hard disk issue? This post from MiniTool shows you 2 computer imaging software.

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The Importance of Imaging a Computer

Imaging a computer means to create image backup for the whole hard drive, including the operating system, boot files and other files. Image a computer or imaging hard drive is an effective way to keep your computer and files safe. System images are complete backups of everything on your PC’s hard drive or a single partition. If you have a complete system image, you can copy back onto a drive to restore the system state.

If your computer fails to boot due to the system crash, virus attack, malware or some other reasons, you can choose to restore your computer to the previous state with the hard drive images created before. In addition, if your data is lost by accidents, you can restore them by the backups.

However, do you know how to image a computer? So, in this post, we will introduce 2 free computer imaging software to do that.

How to Image a Computer?

As for how to image a PC Windows 10 or how to image a hard drive, Microsoft provides a Windows snap-in tool – Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Meanwhile, besides that, you can also use a third-party program, such as MiniTool ShadowMaker.

So, in the following part, we will show how to image a computer with these two programs.

Image a Computer via MiniTool ShadowMaker

To create disk image Windows 10, MiniTool ShadowMaker is recommended. It is a piece of professional backup software and is designed to back up the operating system, files, folders, disks and partitions.

With the system image created by MiniTool ShadowMaker, you are able to restore your computer to a normal state when the system is crashed or attacked. Or, you can restore your files if they are deleted mistakenly.

Now, we will show you how to use this computer imaging software.

1. Download MiniTool ShadowMaker, install and launch it.

Free Download

2. Click Keep Trial.

3. Then you will enter the main interface of MiniTool ShadowMaker. Please go to the Backup You can see that MiniTool ShadowMaker selects the operating system as backup source by default. Here, to image a computer, you need to back up the whole hard drive, so click Source module and choose Disks and Partitions to continue.

choose Disks and Partitions

4. Then select the system disk and check all partitions on this hard drive and click OK to continue.

select the system disk and click OK to continue

5. Next, click the Destination module to choose a target disk to save the backup image. You can save it to a USB drive, external hard drive, or shared folder. Then click OK to continue.

choose a target disk

Tip: You can also image your computer on a regular basis by taking advantage of the Schedule feature. You can use it to set an automatic backup. In addition, MiniTool ShadowMaker also allows you to change the backup schemes. You can select Full backup, Incremental backup or Differential backup. The backup Scheme feature is disabled by default.

6. After that, you can click Back up Now to start to image the computer.

click Back up Now to continue

Once all steps are finished, you have successfully created a disk image Windows 10. But, you had better go to the Tools page to click Media Builder feature to create a bootable drive. When your computer fails to boot, you can use the bootable drive to boot the computer and restore your computer to a normal state with system image created before.

Related article: Restore System Image from External Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7

Besides the Backup and Restore feature, MiniTool ShadowMaker also comes with other powerful features. For example, it is also a piece of file sync software that allows you to sync files to other locations so as to keep data safe. It is also an SSD cloning software, enabling you to clone OS from HDD to SSD without data loss.

Image a Computer via Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

As we have mentioned in the above part, Microsoft provides a snap-in tool – Backup and Restore

(Windows 7) to create system image.

Here, we will show how to use this software to image computer.

1. Open Control Panel.

2. Then choose Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under System and Security section.

3. In the pop-up window, click Create a system image on the left pane to continue.

click Create a system image

Tip: If you want to create a hard drive image for an external hard drive or another disk, please use the Set up backup feature on the right corner.

4. Next, you are required to choose a target disk to save the backups. You can save it to a local or external hard drive, DVD or a network location. But please note this tool does not allow you to save backups to a USB flash drive. Otherwise, you will receive the error message ‘the drive is not a valid backup location.’ Then click Next to continue.

choose a target disk

5. Then you need to decide which drives to be included in the backups. All system-related partitions are checked by default. As we are going to image a computer, so the left partitions on the system disk should be checked, too. Then click Next to continue.

check what to be included in the backup

6. Then you are required to confirm the backup settings and click Start backup to perform computer imaging.

click Start backup

Once all steps are finished, you have created a system image Windows 10 successfully. If your computer comes across some errors, you can restore your computer to a previous state with the created system image backup. Just do that by entering WinPE and go to the Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System Image Recovery.

An amazing post! Besides Windows snap-in tool, this post shows another free computer imaging software. Its powerful features give me a big surprise.Click to tweet

As for how to image a computer, this post has introduced two pieces of free computer imaging software. However, in order to back up hard drive, there is another optional way and it is disk cloning. To clone hard drive, MiniTool ShadowMaker is competent.

So, in the following section, we will show you how to back up hard drive through disk cloning.

Another Way to Back up Hard Drive

Here is the tutorial on how to back up hard drive by disk cloning.

Free Download

1. Launch MiniTool ShadowMaker.

2. Then click Keep Trial.

3. After entering the main interface, go to the Tools page.

4. Then choose Clone Disk to continue.

5. Next, click the Source module to choose a disk clone source. Here, you should choose the system disk.

6. Then click Destination module to choose a target disk that should large enough to hold all contents of the source drive.

7. Then click OK to continue.

Tip: All data on the target disk will be destroyed. If there are important files on it, please back up them first.

8. Then the disk cloning process will begin. Please do not interrupt it until it is finished.

start to clone disk

When the disk cloning process is finished, you will receive a warning message which tells you that the source disk and target disk have the same signature. Therefore, you need to disconnect either of them. Here, you can choose to remove the target one since it is used as a backup. In addition, if you want to boot the computer from the target disk, please enter BIOS to change boot sequence first.

read the warning information

Once all steps are finished, the original system disk has been backed up. If your computer encounters some accidents, you can connect the target disk to the computer and boot from it.

MiniTool ShadowMaker vs Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

MiniTool ShadowMaker and Backup and Restore (Windows 7) are two pieces of computer imaging software. But what are the differences between MiniTool ShadowMaker and Backup and Restore (Windows 7)?

Here, we will show some of their differences.

  • MiniTool ShadowMaker enables you to image a computer to USB, while Backup and Restore (Windows 7) can’t.
  • MiniTool ShadowMaker provides 3 backup schemes and you can change it by yourself. Windows snap-in tool does not have this option.
  • MiniTool ShadowMaker provides more features, such as file synchronization, disk cloning, creating bootable drive, PXE, encrypting backup image, etc.
  • Backup and Restore (Windows 7) only allows you to keep one system image backup on a drive and any other previous backup versions will be overwritten. MiniTool ShadowMaker enables you to make multiple backups and previous backup won’t be deleted.
  • With Backup and Restore (Windows 7), you may encounter some errors, such as Windows Backup not working, Windows Backup stuck, etc.

Bottom Line

As for how to image a computer, after reading this post, you may already have the answers. To image a PC Windows 10, you can try these two pieces of computer imaging software.

If you have any different ideas for imaging a computer or have any problem with MiniTool ShadowMaker, you can leave a message in the comment zone or feel free to contact us via the email [email protected] and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

How to Image a Computer FAQ

What does it mean for a computer to be imaged?
Computer imaging is referred to back up all files on the hard drive including the operating system, files or folders. A system image is a serialized copy of the entire state of a computer system stored in some non-volatile form such as a file. The system image can be used to restore the computer to a previous state.
How do I create a system image in Windows 10?
To create a system image in Windows 10, you can use the Windows snap-in tool – Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Open Control Panel > Backup and Restore (Windows 7) > Create a system image > Choose a target disk to save the backups. Then follow the on-screen wizard to create a system image.
How do I restore a system image to another computer?

To restore a system image to another computer, MiniTool ShadowMaker can help you.

  1. Use MiniTool ShadowMaker to back up the operating system on the local computer.
  2. Use MiniTool ShadowMaker to create bootable media.
  3. Then connect the drive containing system image to another computer.
  4. Next, connect bootable drive to another computer and boot from it.
  5. Then enter MiniTool Recovery Environment and go to the Restore page.
  6. After that, click Restore button and follow the on-screen wizard to finish the whole process.
  7. To restore to another computer, you may need to use the Universal Restore feature which helps you fix some incompatible problem.

For more detailed instructions, you can read the post: How Can You Do Windows Backup Restore to Different Computer?

What is the difference between a backup and a system image?
A system image includes every item data in the partition including the operating system, hardware drivers, installed software, setting, etc. A backup, usually referred to regular backup, is mainly used to back up your personal data. You can read the post System Image VS Backup – Which One Is Suitable for You to learn more differences.
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