Recently, I learned how to backup Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8, Windows 8.1 ISO. Yes, my worst fear was realized. My hard drive crashed without warning. Since recovering my computer, I have looked into options for backing up Windows 8, Windows 8.1 in the case my hard drive fails again.
It took some digging to find out how, like in previous editions of Windows, you could create a Windows 8, Windows 8.1 ISO (system image) to save to USB, DVD, or a spare hard drive. If you have a Windows recovery disk, you can access the advanced recovery options included in Windows. (If you don’t have a recovery disk, visit my article How To Make a Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Recovery Boot Disk. and make one.) Much like using a system restore point, you can use your Windows 8, Windows 8.1 ISO to restore your computer.
When I created my image (ISO) for back-up, I used a USB flash drive, although you can use another hard drive or DVD. I had minimal desktop applications installed when I created the image, and it still had a file size of 4.7 GB. The size of the image will increase dramatically with larger desktop applications installed. Regardless, this is the best way to backup Windows 8/8.1.
Windows 8, Windows 8.1: How to make a Windows 8, Windows 8.1 ISO
1. First, you need to decide where you would like to save the Windows 8, Windows 8.1 ISO. I chose to use my hard drive and then later copy it to a USB flash drive. So select the drive you wish to save the image on, and create a folder. I named mine “windows8image”.
2. Make a note of the file path to the folder you have just created, you will need this later.
3. Drag your mouse to the lower right corner of your Windows start screen. When the search option appears on the right hand side, select it.
4. Type cmd in the search box, with apps selected.
5. Right click the cmd on the left hand side of the page. At the bottom of the same screen you will see the option to run as administrator. Click it.
6. You will see the command prompt open on the desktop. From here you need to type -Createimage C:\Windows8image . Replace “C:\” with the file path you chose and “Windows8image” with the file name you chose. The second part of this command should match up with where you would like to store your Windows 8 ISO, the folder we created above. Your file path may not be the same as mine. After entering the command, press enter.
7. A system message will display saying “Initializing” then “Creating Snapshot”.
8. Finally it will say “Writing Image” and show the progress as a percentage. This does take quite a while to do. It took my computer approxamatly 45 min to 1 hour to complete. (It can take much longer.) After completion, you can close the cmd prompt window and check the folder we created earlier. It should contain your back-up image.
Now your system image can be used to backup Windows 8 in an emergency. I encourage everyone to take some time now to do this so you can avoid headaches later on.
If you have any questions please ask in the comments.
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