System Image Backup is Changing in Windows 10

System Image Backup

You already know you need to back up your computer and the System Image Backup tool is one way to do that. However, it won’t be available for much longer. Microsoft is removing the tool with its latest Windows 10 update.

The Fall Creators Update

While the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is bringing some exciting new features, it’s also removing quite a few. System Image Backup is one of those features. Unlike with MS Paint, Microsoft’s not offering a workaround, such as offering MS Paint in the Windows Store.

Microsoft recommends that all users switch to a third party solution. This implies that Windows won’t offer any alternatives in the operating system itself. Luckily, there are other full-disk backup solutions for you to use.

Using Backup and Restore

Microsoft introduced the Backup and Restore feature in Windows 7. It’s actually an effective backup solution and a simple alternative to system image backup. The main difference is the System Image Backup tool creates a full backup that includes your programs, settings, and more. Backup and Restore only backs up your files, such as documents and videos.

You’ll need an external hard drive to store your backups. When the drive’s connected, it’s time to set up your backup schedule. Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup. Click Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7). The feature was mainly left in place to help you restore backups you made in Windows 7.

Click Set up backup. If you want to restore files, click Select another backup to restore files from. Follow the prompts to set up the drive you want to use, which files and folders to back up, and your back up schedule. If you already have a set schedule, but want to create a new backup now, choose Back up now.

Microsoft also includes a File History tool. This tool creates hourly backups of frequently used files, such as Word documents. You can replace lost or damaged files from these backups. Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup. Click Add a drive and follow the prompts to set up your backups.

Related Read: It’s Time to Backup Windows 10 Before It’s Too Late

Backup to the Cloud

If you only want to back up your files and not the entire system, you always have the option of doing cloud backups. OneDrive is installed by default on Windows 10 and you can even choose it as a default save location. All you need to do is open OneDrive, set up an account (if you haven’t already), and choose what files and folders to sync. Even though OneDrive has occasional sync issues, it’s a good option for backing up important files.

Some of the top cloud backup services include:

  • Acronis True Image Cloud – serves as a full System Image Backup alternative with a disk cloning option
  • Backblaze – store unlimited files for just $5 per month per computer
  • SOS Online Backup – offers multiple storage tiers, going up to 10 TB
  • Carbonite – store unlimited files starting at $59.99 per year
  • SugarSync – works as both a backup solution and cloud storage service

With the exception of SugarSync, these services are designed mainly for backups. They sync with your Windows 10 computer and other devices to backup files as you store them on your computer. You can also set up sync schedules and choose which files and folders to back up.

Related Read: Troubleshooting OneDrive in Windows 10

Full Disk Backup Solutions

If you want a true replacement for the System Image Backup tool, you’ll need a program that supports full image backups. Many backup programs only back up specific files and folders. An image backup works as a snapshot of your computer at any given time.

  • Paragon Backup & Recovery 16 – Offers simple and full image backups. The full version costs $39.95, but you can try the free version, which still does image backups. Set your schedule and the software does the rest.
  • R-Drive Image – Offers full image backups. It’s designed to quickly restore your system when the worst happens. A free 30-day trial is available, but the full version costs $44.95.
  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free – Offers file-by-file backups and image backups for free. The software’s only free to individual home users. If you need more features, the Home version is just $29.
  • Acronis True Image 2018 – Offers full disk cloning and imaging or individual file backups. It works similar to the cloud version, but stores files to a local external drive. The software starts at $49.99.
  • Macrium Reflect Free – Offers a wide range of backup options, including cloning and imaging. The free version includes most features you’ll need, but professional versions are available, though they’re geared more towards businesses.

Full Image Versus File Backups

By now, you’re probably wondering why you’d need the System Image Backup tool to begin with. Especially when you have so many options for backing up individual files. The truth is, you should do both types of backups.

File backups are ideal for backing up new documents, photos, music, and more. You’ll add new files often, which means you’ll need regular backups in the event of a virus or computer crash.

However, full image backups are ideal for restoring your entire computer. For instance, when you first get a new computer, it’s a good idea to create an image once you have everything just the way you like. Instead of restoring to factory settings when you need to start fresh, you recover from your system image.

Image files are also good for ransomware cases. Restore your full image to a clean hard drive and it’s like you’ve got your computer back. Of course, you’ll need your most recent file backup as well.

While image backups do include all files stored on your computer, they usually take much longer to backup. After all, it’s your entire system. File backups are shorter, since they aren’t backing up as much. If you do incremental backups, only changes are backed up, cutting the time even shorter.

Don’t worry that System Image Backup is going away. You have plenty of options. Just remember, do backups on a regular schedule so you never lose what’s important.

Related Read: Here’s What You Need to Know About the
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update


Contribution by Crystal Crowder

About the Author

Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.