Microsoft

Pro tip: Track down the Create a System Image tool in Windows 8.1

Learn where to find and launch the Create a System Image tool in Microsoft Windows 8.1, because it is not where it used to be.

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If you read my article Step-by-step: Update to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, then you know that I began that article by telling you to first create a System Image using the Windows 7 File Recovery tool, so that if anything went wrong as you performed the upgrade, you would be able to return to your current configuration using the System Image Recovery procedure. To launch the Windows 7 File Recovery tool in Windows 8, use the [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings pane. Then, you type Windows 7 File in the text box and click Windows 7 File Recovery in the results panel.

Soon after I upgraded to Windows 8.1, I thought that I would create a new system image of my new Windows 8.1 configuration and went the launch the Windows 7 File Recovery tool as I described above. To my surprise, the new results panel was blank, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Fig A 11-22.png

Attempting to access the Windows 7 File Recovery tool displays a blank search results page.

I then dug around a little bit and discovered that Microsoft had removed Windows 7 File Recovery tool from Windows 8.1. A little more digging and I discovered that you can still create a System Image in Windows 8.1; however, you now launch the tool from File History.

In this article, I'll briefly discuss the Windows 7 File Recovery tool. Then I'll show you where to find and launch the Create a System Image tool in Windows 8.1.


Windows 7 tip: Use Windows 7 System Image Recovery to restore a hard disk


Windows 7 File Recovery

As you may know, Windows 7 File Recovery used to be called Backup and Restore in Windows 7. Why they didn't leave the name the same in Windows 8 is beyond me. After all they only left the old Backup and Restore capability in Windows 8 so that upgraders could access the files contained in backups previously made in Windows 7.

In any case, in addition to allowing you to create and restore old fashioned backups, just like in Backup and Restore, Windows 8's Windows 7 File Recovery tool provided you with a way to create a System Image of your entire hard disk. Selecting the Create a System Image command from the left panel, immediately launched the Create a System Image tool.

Windows 8.1 File History

When putting together Windows 8.1, Microsoft decided to do away with compatibility for backups created in Windows 7's Backup and Restore tool and completely removed the Windows 7 File Recovery tool from the newest version of Windows. In reality, the File History tool is a fine way to make sure that you have backup copies of all your important data files and the other tools, Refresh your PC, Reset your PC, and System Restore, allow you to easily revive your operating system files. So I can see how removing Windows 7 File Recovery, would make sense. However, why did they make it so hard to find and access the Create a System Image tool?

Going back to what I was describing in the introduction, after I realized that Microsoft had removed Windows 7 File Recovery tool from Windows 8.1, I immediately used [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings pane and began a search for the Create a System Image tool. However, after typing Create a, I realized that I wasn't going to find the tool using Search, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Fig B 11-22.png

Attempting to search for the Create a System Image tool is a fruitless effort.

Then when I finally did go to File History, I almost missed it. Not only is the system image tool on the bottom of the left panel instead of on the top, where it used to be on Windows 7 File Recovery screen, the command is now called System Image Backup instead of Create a System Image, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Fig C 11-22.png

To create a system image, select the System Image Backup command in File History.

Once you launch the tool, you'll see that it is still called Create a System Image as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Fig D 11-22.png

Even though the command to launch the tool has changed, the tool is still called Create a System Image.

What's your take?

Have you looked for Windows 7 File Recovery tool in Windows 8.1 and discovered that it was missing? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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