Restore Your Windows 7 System Using a System Image

We will continue the series of articles about Backup and Restore features and show how to restore your system by using a previously created system image with Windows Backup.

How to Restore your System when Windows 7 still Boots

When your computer stops working, you can use a system image to restore the content of the entire hard disk or a disk partition.

To restore your system, you need to use the Backup and Restore features. To access them, go to Control Panel and click on the 'Back up your computer' shortcut.

In the Backup and Restore window, click on the 'Recover system settings or your computer' link.

Next, choose 'Advanced recovery methods'.

In the following window you have two options:

  • 'Use a system image you created to recover your computer' - allows you to restore your drive and/or operating system using a system image;
  • 'Reinstall Windows (requires installation disc)' - enables you to make a re-installation of your operation system.

'Reinstall Windows' will allow you to perform a custom reinstallation of your operating system. Before you choose such a 'radical' method, try to fix the problems by using System Recovery tools like Startup Repair or System Restore. If all methods fail, including restoring your system using a system image, then try to reinstall your operating system using the 'Reinstall Windows' option. During the installation process you will need to insert the Windows installation disc. Also, the old Windows version will be moved to the Windows.old folder.
The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to use a system image to restore your computer, so we will use the first option.

Next, you will be prompted to backup your files, the ones that were created after the image was made. The 'Back up now' button will open the Backup and Restore window were you can perform a simple backup process. For more details about how to backup your files please visit Windows Backup - How it Works and How to Create a System Image. Next, press the Skip button.

Press the Restart button to reboot your computer.

Your system will take a while to reboot and, once done, it will ask you to choose your keyboard input language settings. Select the language you prefer and click Next.

Windows 7 will now scan your hard-drive for system images.

By default, the operating system will select the most recent system image backup. If you wish to use another image file, click the 'Select a system image' button.

The next window allows you to select the image to be used. Also you have an Advanced button that provides you with two useful options.

You can choose from:

  • 'Search for a system image on the network' - search an image on a network;
  • 'Install a driver' - install a new driver if you consider necessary.

Now you have to select additional restore options like formatting and repartitioning your disks. The Advanced button will offer again two options.

You can choose from:

  • 'Automatically restart this computer after the restore is complete' - allows you to automatically set for your computer to restart after the process is completed;
  • 'Automatically check and update disk error information' - enables you to set a check for disk errors.

After your are done customizing the available options, press 'Next'.

Verify that the restore details are correct and click the Finish button.

A confirmation window will be displayed. Press the Yes button to start the restore process.

You will see a progress bar similar to the one below. Depending of your disk size, the restore process can take from a few minutes to a few hours.

Once the restore process is done, restart your computer.

How to Restore your System when Windows 7 won't boot

If Windows 7 won't boot, follow the steps described in the first article of the System Recovery series to access the System Image Recovery tool. Then, click on 'System Image Recovery'.

Next, a wizard will begin identical to the one above. Follow the same steps as in the first chapter, starting from image number 7.


Don't forget that, when you restore your computer from a system image, it's a complete restore. All of your current programs, system settings and files are replaced with those on the system image. If you encounter any problems when you make a restore process using a system image please share your experience by leaving a comment. Also, don't hesitate to read the tutorials listed below to learn more about system recovery options.