Create a Windows system image for recovery

Guide to create the exact image of Windows 10 and Windows 11, to use in case of problems to restore your PC quickly to the previous state

In Windows, we find different backup and restore methods, but the most effective is certainly the system image, which allows for the creation of an exact copy of Windows with all the files and configurations present, so you can go back at any time without losing the files stored up to the date the image was created.

In the following guide, we will show you how to bring Windows back with system images, illustrating the procedures for creating the image on Windows 11 and on Windows 10, as well as showing you what to do to restore the image in the event of a system crash.

READ ALSO -> Turn on Automatic Backup in Windows 10 and 11

1) Differences between system image and configuration restore

In order not to get confused, it is better to immediately understand the difference between the system image and the system restore.

The configuration restore creates a backup of only some important and recently changed files within the current Windows installation. This type of backup is very useful in case you delete files by mistake, make a mistake in the configuration, install a defective program, or skip installing some system drivers.

With a “system image,” instead, we’re going to create the exact duplicate of Windows, saving a copy of all system files, all configurations, and all personal files stored on the PC up to that moment.

The system image file can become a very large file, so it is best to save it to a USB external disk so you can use the latest image in the event of a total PC crash or an infection that can’t be removed.

2) How to create system image from Windows 11

Windows 11 imageTo create the system image on Windows 11, immediately connect the external USB disk to one of the USB ports on the PC, then open the menu Start. we look for the Control PanelClick on “System and Security.” we press on Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and finally click on Create system image sideways to the left.

In the new window, tick the item On a hard drive, we select the USB external disk connected just now, pressing down on After you select all the partitions on the computer and check the space required for the backup below, if the disk we have connected is large enough, we will have no problems saving the backup image.

To conclude, all we have to do is press “After you” and then click “Start Backup” to proceed.

If the Windows installation is encrypted with BitLocker, we will still be able to perform the backup, but it will be advisable to keep the decryption code of the disk at hand, as seen in our guide on how to unlock protected and encrypted disks.

3) How to create system image from Windows 10

Windows 10 imageThose who have Windows 10 on their PC can create the system image by pressing WIN+I on the keyboard, clicking on Update and Security, pressing on the Backups menu, pressing on Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7), and finally selecting Create system image.

From here on, the procedure is identical to that seen on Windows 11: we select the external USB disk, choose all the partitions present on Windows, and start the procedure to create the system image to use in case of problems.

4) How to automatically create system images

AOMEI BackupperThe system integrated into Windows is excellent, but we cannot program it; we will have to remember to create the system image at regular intervals. If we want to automate the process we will have to leave the external USB disk connected (or use network storage with a NAS device or a USB disk connected to the modem) and use for the purpose AOMEI Backupper Standardthe best software to create automatic system images.

To schedule the creation of backups, we open AOMEI Backupper Standard on the PC and click on the menu Backups. we press on System backupsselect all the partitions on the disk, indicate at the bottom the external USB disk or the network resource on which to save the backup, and press on “Scheduled Backup.”
Scheduled backupIn the new screen, we choose the frequency of the automatic backup (for example, every week), we choose the time and the best options for the backup, we press OK, and finally we press Start Backup to start creating the first system image.

The program will install a service that will start the creation of the system image in a totally automatic way; we will just have to make sure that the PC is on and that the disk or network resource (used as the image destination) is connected and accessible.

5) How to restore system image

Restore imageIf we have created the system image with the tool integrated in Windows, we can restore it quickly by starting the advanced boot options (by forcibly restarting Windows 3 times at startup or from the specific settings menu), by clicking on Advanced options, and finally by selecting System image recovery.

The PC will restart, and a window will appear where you can select the system image from the external USB disk or from the network resource. We will thus be able to quickly start restoring Windows to the date of the image.

If, on the other hand, we have used AOMEI Backupper Standard, open the program from a working PC, go to the menu Instrumentswe press on Create bootable discInsert an empty USB stick and follow the instructions.

At the end of the creation of the boot stick, we connect it to the locked PC. We also connect the external USB disk with the images created so far. Let’s change the boot orders. elect to launch AOMEI Backupper, and in the recovery environment, launch AOMEI Backupper, select the Restore menu, click your favorite image and start the restore process.


System image recovery has become within everyone’s reach since we can use the tool included in Windows since Windows 7 and also available on Windows 10 and Windows 11 (even if it is a bit hidden on the latter).

If we get bored of creating images by hand, we can plan to create new images with a great program like AOMEI Backupper Standard, which also offers a recovery tool accessible from a USB stick (great for totally locked PCs).

If the Windows recovery console doesn’t work or nothing starts on your PC, we invite you to read our guides on how to reinstall windows 10 recovery console (windows RE) come on how to create a recovery usb stick in windows 10 and 11.


Professional writer with a passion for technology and all things related to personal computing. With years of experience in the field, William has honed his craft as an expert in writing about how to use PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and staying up-to-date with technological updates.

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