Knowledge Base

How to Fully Backup Your PC to USB

If a critical fault occurs on your PC , you can use the built-in  Windows Recovery Environment (WinPE) to recover your PC from a [previously created] system image.

A system image includes the entire Windows installation, files, documents, settings and programs. To use this feature, you need a spare USB drive (of at least 2 GB) to create a bootable drive, which contains the Windows PE environment. You also need another local drive to save the system image. Its a good idea to take an image of your PC after you’ve installed software, configured your profile, or made other important changes. Its not worth creating an image just to back up your documents & files. These should be saved into a fileshare, USB drive, separate easily restorable file backup, or a OneDrive/Google Drive equivalent. Think of your ‘system’ and ‘data’ as two separate layers of your desktop PC.

Note: If your PC has a single drive, you’ll need to prepare an external USB hard drive to save the Windows system image (make sure that the free space on the external hard drive must be more than the used space on the current system disk).

The procedure:

  • Create a system repair USB flash drive, which can enter Windows Recovery Environment
  • Create System Image
  • Use System Image to recover your computer
  • Appendix: How many disks on my computer

 

Create a system repair USB flash drive, which can enter Windows Recovery Environment

You will create a USB flash drive, which can enter Windows Recovery Environment, by the built-in “Create a recovery drive” feature in Windows.

  1. Click Start and Type ‘Create a recovery drive‘ and click the resulting application.
  2. If you receive a message about User Account Control,  select [Yes]
  3. Do not check the box to [Back up system files to the recovery drive]. Select [Next]

    Note: The steps below will back up your system using system image (including your programs and personal files), so there is no reason to back up your PC to another recovery drive in this step (system backup won’t include your programs and personal files).
  4. Connect your USB flash drive to hold the Recovery Environment to your computer.

    Note: All files on the USB flash drive will be deleted during the process, so please back up your files first if you have data inside originally.
  5. In Available drive(s), confirm and select the USB flash drive that you want to us, and then select [Next]
    Note: If you will use an external USB hard drive to save the system image, you can connect the same one to create the bootable device to enter Windows Recovery Environment (Windows will automatically create a new partition on the external USB hard drive).
  6. Select [Create], and the system will start to create the recovery drive. It will take a while, and it depends on your computer specification and the size of the repair tools.
    Note: Please make sure the AC adapter is connected during the process and do not force shut down to prevent any errors.
  7. The recovery drive (bootable device) is created, and please click [Finish]
  8. If you create the bootable device via the external USB hard drive and you use the same drive to save system image, please continue with the following step.
    The remaining space is unallocated status in the external USB hard drive because of creating a recovery drive.Before creating a system image, you need to manually create a new partition and set the format to NTFS type.

Create System Image

Because Windows will regularly update and improve security as well as performance, we recommend that you periodically repeat the following steps to create a new system image and back up your programs and personal files.

  1. Type and search [Control Panel] in the Windows search bar, then click [Open].
    In the System and Security field, select [Backup and Restore (Windows 7)].
    Select [Create a system image].
  2. In the On a hard disk field, select a drive where you want to save the system image, and then select [Next]
  3. The system lists the drives which will be backed up and the required disk space. Please select [Start backup] to start to create a system image. It will take a while, and it depends on your computer specification and the size of system image. In this example, it may take 1 hour to back up the system image of 44 GB disk space.
    Note: Please make sure the AC adapter is connected during the process and do not force shut down to prevent any errors.
  4. You may receive the following notification during the creation process, and please select [No].
    This step is to create a system repair CD/DVD, which can enter Windows Recovery Environment. 
  5. The system image creation is completed, please select [Close]
  6. On the drive you save the backup, it will generate a WindowsImageBackup folder, which is where the system image is located.
    If you want to keep the old system image, you can copy the entire WindowsImageBackup folder to a new location, and then create a new system image.Use System Image to recover your computer

If you experience the computer cannot boot, you can use the recovery drive to enter Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), and then restore your computer via the system image.

  1. Connect the recovery drive (USB flash drive) you created to your computer. 
  2. Power on the computer and select the boot option as the USB flash drive
  3. The computer will enter Windows Recovery Environment, and then please choose the language.
  4. Choose your keyboard layout.
  5. Select [Troubleshoot].
  6. Select [Advanced options].
  7. Select [System Image Recovery].
  8. Select [Windows 10].
  9. The system will automatically search the latest available system image.
  10. You can manually select a system image as well. Select [Select a system image], and then select [Next].
  11. Select a system image location where you want to use, and then click [Next].
    If your system image is saved on the external hard drive, please connect it to your computer, and then click Refresh.
  12. The system will list all available system images on this drive, and please select a system image you want to recover, and then click [Next].
  13. You are able to format and repartition the existing disks, and then click [Next]
  14. Make sure that the restored system image information, and then select [Finish]
  15. The system will remind you that all data on the drives to be restored will be replaced with the data in the system image, select [Yes] to start the restore process.
  16. Your computer has been successfully restored and will automatically restart in 60 seconds. You can also select [Restart now], and your computer will enter the Windows operating system after restart.

 

Appendix A : How many disks on my computer

Some computers may have a hard drive only, but it was divided into two partitions by default (such as there are drive C and drive D on the same disk). You can refer to the following method to confirm how many disks on your computer.

  1. Right-click the start icon on the far left of the taskbar, and then select [Disk Management].
  2. If drive C and drive D on different disks, it means there are two physical hard drives / SSDs on your computer. (Such as the following example, drive C is on disk 1, and drive D is on disk 0.)If drive C and drive D on the same disk, it means there is only one physical hard drive / SSD on your computer. (Such as the following example, drive C and drive D both are on disk 1.
    1. Right-click the start icon on the far left of the taskbar, and then select [Disk Management].
    2. If drive C and drive D on different disks, it means there are two physical hard drives / SSDs on your computer. (Such as the following example, drive C is on disk 1, and drive D is on disk 0.)If drive C and drive D on the same disk, it means there is only one physical hard drive / SSD on your computer. (Such as the following example, drive C and drive D both are on disk 1.)

Appendix B : Is there any easier way? 

Backing your files up separately from your PC is the first step in securing the safety of your data, which you can then use on a newly built PC. Always take a backup copy of files once you’ve worked on them. To another drive, to USB or to Onedrive/Google Drive or similar.

Also worth heading into System Properties (right click My Computer in Explorer), to make sure System Restore is switched On.

Configure Restore points and take quick Restore points after you’ve installed software (or before you install it if you think you might like to roll back).

Restore points enable you to restore your application files while leaving your data files intact as you roll back. You can easily restore the application related files to their previous state.

Have a look around in System Protection Tab of System Properties.

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