Slideshow: Use System Image Recovery tool to restore your hard disk

Accessing the Windows 7 File Recovery tool from the Start screen is easy

This slideshow image gallery is also available as a post in the Windows and Office Blog.

In a recent series of blog posts, I've shown you how to use two of Windows 8's new recovery tools, Refresh your PC and Reset your PC. While the Reset your PC tool will allow you to essentially start from scratch and the Refresh your PC tool will allow you to install a new copy of the operating system while retaining your data, you may also want to have a backup of your full system - data and applications - on hand, just in case you encounter a catastrophic hard disk failure.

If so, you'll be glad to know that the tried and true System Image tool still exists in Windows 8 and as long as you have created a system image of your hard disk, you can use the System Image Recovery tool to recover your entire system in the event of a hard disk failure. In other words, if your hard disk goes south, you can purchase a new hard disk and use the System Image Recovery tool to restore your system to the state it was in at the time that you created the image.

Now, keep in mind that for this type of backup to be truly effective, you need to regularly create new System Images so that in the event of a recovery, you will have a recent version of your system.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to use System Image Recovery tool from the Recovery Drive to restore your hard disk. As I do, I'll also show you how to create a System Image on a set of optical discs.

What you need

In order to run the System Image Recovery tool as I'll describe in this article, you'll need to have created a Recovery Drive as I showed you in the article Create a Recovery Drive in Windows 8. You'll also need a set of optical discs or on an external drive on which to create a system image of your hard disk.

Creating a System Image

As I mentioned, in order to use the System Image Recovery tool you must have created a system image of your hard disk. As such, I'll begin by walking you through the steps required to create a system image.

To create a system image in Windows 8, you'll start by accessing the oddly named Windows 7 File Recovery window. (Why not just call it File Recovery or Windows Backup and leave it at that?) To do so, use the [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings page. Then, type Windows 7 File in the text box and click Windows 7 File Recovery, as shown in Figure A.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

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.