How to create a system image in Windows 11

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • System images are one of the best ways to make a full backup of your drive.
  • In case any major issues occur, such as a system failure, feel free to fix the problem by restoring your system.
  • Use the Backup and Restore option to create system images in Windows 11.
    windows 11 system image
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    When using Windows 11 or any operating system, you should create a backup regularly, to prevent data loss and easily restore your system in case major problems appear.

    System images are recommended to back up your files since they create a full backup of your drive. If you experience any issues, such as a system failure, you can fix them by restoring your system this way.

    Creating a system image disk in Windows 11 hasn’t changed much and it’s similar to the Windows 10 system image backup creation process.

    Nevertheless, in this guide, we’ll go into detail and show you how to easily create a system image on your Windows 11 PC.

    Why do I need a system image in Windows 11?

    A system image is a backup file of your system drive that can restore your operating system in case a system failure occurs.

    You can also use a system image to move your operating system to a new hard drive easily and without any file loss.

    The size of the system image varies depending on multiple factors, including the size of your partition, the number of partitions that you’re backing up, and the compression rate.

    Usually, it is equal to the size of your system partition, but some of you might choose to back up the entire hard drive, so the size can vary drastically.

    Before creating a system image, make sure that you have enough space on your destination drive to store the system image.

    How can I create a system image in Windows 11?

    1. Use the Backup and Restore option

    1. Click the magnifying glass to start the Search function, then type control panel and select the app from the list of results.
    2. Now click on Backup and restore.
    3. In Backup and Restore, click on Create a system image in the left pane.
    4. Now select the backup location and click on Next. If you don’t have another drive installed, you will need an external media connected like a USB stick or drive.
    5. A list of drives that you can back up will appear. Uncheck the drives that you don’t want to back up and click Next to proceed.
    6. First, make sure that the back-up media can handle the size of the backup, then click on Start backup to initiate the backup process.
    7. This might take a while, so be patient.
    8. Once the process is done, click on Close.
    9. Optional: Click Yes to create a system repair disk in case you don’t have Windows 11 bootable media or if you can’t access advanced boot settings. To complete this process, you’ll need an empty flash drive.

    You can also start Control Panel by pressing the Windows + R combination and typing control panel. Then hit Enter or click OK to start the app.

    2. Use Settings

    1. In the Pinned apps section, click on the Settings icon to open it.
    2. Go to System and select Storage.
    3. Now select Advanced storage options.
    4. Go to Backup options.
    5. Now select Backup and Restore.

    Both methods will open the same window, and you can use the one that is more convenient to you. Keep in mind that the latter method is available only on older builds.

    Once you open Backup and Restore, you can create Windows 11 system image backup by doing as described below.

    Although this process is simple, you may prefer using specialized software such as Acronis True Image because it offers better features and more configuration options.

    Is it better to use third-party solutions to create system images?

    Even if the Backup and Restore feature in Windows 11 is completely free, it’s only good for basic tasks, and if you’re an advanced user, you might find some crucial features missing.

    Most cloning applications offer a basic version of their software that you can enjoy free of charge for personal use with some minor restrictions.

    Specialized software allows you to create several different types of system images including both incremental and differential, while Windows Backup and Restore can only create full system images.

    With these tools, you can also run your system image on a virtual machine and gain access to your files easily on another PC.

    Therefore, for advanced users, we recommend specialized cloning software for disk images and file back-ups.

    What is the difference between System Restore and system image backup?

    System Restore is a feature that allows you to restore your system in case any software problem occurs.

    For example, if issues start appearing after installing certain software or driver, you can use it to restore your system to the previous state before installing the software.

    Keep in mind that it doesn’t affect your files, so if you accidentally delete important files, you can’t restore them with System Restore. Moreover, note that Windows creates system restore points automatically.

    A system image, on the other hand, creates a full copy of your system partition, which includes all applications, settings, and files.

    You can use a system image to repair software issues, but system image files aren’t created as often as System Restore points, and they are used to fix more serious problems that System Restore can’t.

    Unlike System Restore, the system image will restore all files that were deleted since the creation of the system image.

    Keep in mind that it will restore your system drive exactly as it was when you created the system image. This means that any files that were created on the system drive after the system image will be removed.

    A system image can also be moved to another system, and in case your hard drive is damaged, you can transfer all your files and operating system to a new hard drive and continue where you left off.

    How can I restore my PC with a system image?

    1. Open the Start Menu and select Settings.
    2. Navigate to the System and select Recovery.
    3. In the Advanced startup click on Restart now.
    4. When the PC restarts, select Troubleshoot.
    5. Now select Advanced options.
    6. Click on See more recovery options.
    7. Select System image recovery.
    8. Now choose your system image and click on Next.
    9. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

    Creating a Windows 11 system image backup is simple, and it can be done efficiently with the Backup and Restore application.

    It’s a great idea to create back-ups and based on the sensitivity of the information, you can even make more of the same and store them on different media and places.

    That’s because any backup on your system or on an external device can eventually fail and you will be back to square one.

    More than that, a copy of your system image is like an instance in time that you can go return to if a major problem arises on your PC.

    Are you using system images and what’s your favorite method to create system images? Let us know in the comments below.

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