Nearly every PC blog on the planet tells you to regularly back up your PC. But most people never do that. Unfortunately for these people, that decision often results in losing all their data.

That’s why you should know how to create a system image backup in Windows 8.1. A system image backup lets you restore your PC to its former glory when the unthinkable happens.

Windows 8 has its faults, but it actually makes it much easier to create a backup. So if you’re expecting a long and complicated tutorial, then don’t worry: I’m going to keep this as short and sweet as possible:

Windows 8.1 instructions

Microsoft has made it much easier to create a system image backup in Windows 8.1. If you’ve upgraded to the latest version of Windows, then you don’t have to perform as many steps as your Windows 8 brethren:

Step 1) Go to your Windows 8.1 Start screen and type file history into the search box and click the first option that comes up. Alternatively, you can find File History by going into your Control Panel > System > Security and File History

Step 2) Click System Image Backup, which is the small link in the lower left-hand corner of the window

system backup windows 8

Step 3) Choose where you want to save your system image backup. You might want to use an external hard drive, a large USB stick, or just your regular hard drive. Obviously, if you use your regular hard drive, then you’re not going to be able to recover your backup image if that hard drive crashes, which is why it’s a good idea to save to an external device. If you don’t have an external hard drive or USB stick, consider burning your data to DVDs or Blu-Ray discs.

Step 4) Click the Start Backup button after reviewing everything to make sure it’s correct

Step 5) Wait a while and once the process completes, relax knowing that you can recover your Windows installation if something bad happens

Windows 8 instructions

Step 1) Open your Windows 8 Start screen and type recovery into the search box, then click Windows 7 File Recovery

Step 2) Click the Create a system image link, which is found on the left hand side of the screen

Step 3) Proceed with the Windows 8.1 instructions listed above, starting at Step 3

windows 8 system image

How to access your backup after an error

If an error occurs and you need to backup your system, then go to Settings > Change PC Settings > General > Advanced Startup > Restart now. Boot to the drive on which you saved your system image and then wait for the restoration process to complete.

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