Sunday, March 22, 2015

How To Create A Full Backup Image Clone In Windows 8.1

We have often talked about the benefits of using the 321 backup rule for computer data. THREE backup sets of your documents and data. TWO of them on different media (dvd, disconnected external Hard Drive etc.). ONE off site (Cloud Storage, Family Member, Office etc.). This will protect your most valuable data from Malware and catastrophic events - fire, tornado, earthquake etc.

It is also a good idea to have a full clone image of your Windows Computer. Sometimes referred to as a Bare Metal Backup. This is an exact replica for your Computer at a specific point in time. It includes all data, Applications and settings - a perfect clone. Restoring this image, returns your computer to the exact state it was in, when the image was made. Why would you want this? How long it would take you to reinstall Windows and all of your software & settings, in the event of a hard drive failure? It is not a matter of if your drive will fail - only when.



Third party vendors have offered Cloning software for many years. Some will remember the "original cloner", it was called Ghost. When Microsoft introduced Windows 7 they included a basic "built in" Cloning solution, and it has been very successful. With the release of Windows 8, the Cloning option continues, although it is somewhat hidden. So, here's how you can Clone your Windows 8.1 computer. Keep in mind that the cloned image, is a snapshotin time, so you will need to create a new image periodically. The following instructions are for Windows 8.1 although you can easily create an image in Windows 7, as well.

  1. Go to the Windows 8.1 Tile Desktop, click on the search Icon (upper right) and Type "File History". Select File History.
  2. After it loads, look down at the lower left and you will see System Image Backup. When you click on this you will need to select a location for your backup. The simplest method is to backup to an external USB hard drive. Depending upon your computer specs, the backup may take several hours. If you are asked about making a Recovery DVD, you may want to do that, as well - although it is not necessary for Windows 8.1.
  3. Ok now that you have a backup image let's look at restoring. Attach the external drive that contains the backup. Go to PC Settings>Update and Recovery>Recovery and click the Restart Now button under Advanced Startup. Your PC will restart.
  4. At the "Choose an Option screen", select Troubleshoot.
  5. At Troubleshoot, select Advanced Options and choose System Image Recovery. Your PC will restart again.
  6. At the System Image Recovery screen, select your user name and then type your password when prompted.
  7. The "Image Your Computer" wizard will begin. Select the System Image that you want to restore. Click Next and follow the instructions to restore your PC. When the process is complete, your PC will be restored the state it was in, on the day that you made the Backup Image. Any changes that you have made since that date, will have to be replicated.