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Use a Windows 7 System Image for Data Recovery

There are numerous ways that you can back up your computer data to avoid the need for professional data recovery. The tough part is deciding which methods and storage media to use for your backups, especially as it’s advisable to use more than one method. If your computer runs Windows 7 and you have a limited budget for backup solutions, one of your options is to create a Windows 7 system image.

About Windows 7 System Image

System imaging is a way of copying the entire contents of your hard drive into a single file. You will need a separate device on which to store the image, but an inexpensive portable hard drive would be sufficient for this. A system image is an effective solution if your Windows system suffers serious corruption or your hard drive crashes. In this kind of situation, the image can be used to restore your computer to the state it was in at the time of imaging.

Windows 7 features a built-in tool which allows you to create a system image. While not as advanced or efficient as some imaging software that you can purchase, it’s good enough to do the job and perhaps ideal as a secondary backup method. The Windows 7 imaging utility also allows you to create a recovery CD.

Having a system image as a standby in case of disaster will save you money and time if you should experience a hard drive failure. You will still need your local NJ computer repair shop to install a new drive into your computer or you could install a new drive yourself if you are confident about doing so. After that you will be able to boot your computer from your windows recovery CD and then restore your system onto the new internal drive from the image.

Limitations of Windows 7 System Image

As a secondary backup measure Windows 7 image can get you out of trouble in the event of a data disaster. This tool also has the benefit of being included in your Windows 7 OS so is a cheaper alternative than buying separate imaging software. There are some limitations to this solution though.

You must have an external drive on which to store the system image and you also need a DVD drive to burn and run the recovery CD. The Windows 7 imaging tool does not compress the image so you will need an external drive with plenty of capacity, especially if you have a lot of data on your main drive. The tool also has no management capabilities so you must manually create any system image and it’s not possible to create incremental or differential images.

Recovering your system from an image like this will get you up and running in the event of a problem. However, if your main drive fails and you haven’t created a recent image, you won’t have a means to recover files created or changed since the last time you imaged your system. If you want your most recent files back, you will still need to enlist the help of a New Jersey data recovery service, to retrieve them from your broken drive.

These limitations prevent Windows 7 System imaging being the best choice for backing up your computer, but if you want to use the tool as a secondary solution, here’s how to create your system image.

How to Create a Windows 7 System Image

To create your system image you first need to access the utility. Do this as follows:

1. Click on the Windows start button on your desktop.

2. In the search box, type backup and then click on “Enter”. This will open the backup and restore utility in your Windows Control Panel.

3. In the left hand column, click on “Create a system image”.

A new window will open giving you some options as to where you can create your system image. If you choose to create your image on DVDs rather than an external hard drive, you will need a lot of DVDs.

Now you’re ready to create your system image. To do this, just select your backup location and then click on “Next”. The system image creation will now commence and a progress bar will appear on your screen.

Create a System Repair CD

As soon as your image has been created, Windows will ask you if you want to create a system repair CD. Click on “Yes” and a new window will open where you can choose a drive on which to create your CD. Insert a blank DVD or CD and then click “Create disc”. The repair disc will commence burning and when it’s complete you will see a new window will open to tell you about using the repair disc. Now you have your emergency recovery disc and you should label it clearly before storing it away somewhere safe.

Restoring Your Windows 7 System

You may be faced with one of three possible recovery scenarios:

1. Your system became corrupted but you are able to boot your computer from the main internal drive.

2. Your computer boots, but Windows can’t open Windows 7.

3. Your computer will not boot from the main drive, or you have had to have a new drive installed.

In the first scenario you will not need to use your system repair CD. You can simply boot your computer, navigate to the Windows 7 backup and restore utility and then restore your system from the image on your external drive.

In the second and third scenarios you will need to use the system repair CD to boot your computer. Make sure you have your external drive with the system image connected when you boot your computer. After Windows has loaded the recovery CD and scanned your computer, you will be given the option to load the system image onto your main hard drive.

In Summary

Windows 7 System image is a useful utility when you need a basic secondary method to backup and protect your data. Without any management capability, it’s not very suitable as an everyday backup solution. If you have a big enough external drive, you can use it to store a system image and to create regular file backups using the Windows 7 backup functionality.

If you’re located in New Jersey and have suffered a crashed hard drive, Dave’s Computers can help. You may be able to have your drive repaired or the data recovered. Dave’s Computers can also install a new hard drive if you should need a replacement. For more information, give the team a call on 908-428-9558.

by David Molnar