How to create Windows 10 PC backup or restore from backup

Before doing any drastic hardware or software troubleshooting, it’s highly recommended that you create a system image backup of your operating system. Doing so can save you a lot of heartaches later on when something goes wrong. Creating a copy of the entire system before installing major updates, like when updating from Windows 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10. If you created a backup of your Windows 8 operating system before upgrading to Windows 10, you can also use it to roll the operating system back.

Creating a full backup of your Windows 10 system is simple. As long as you have the right drive to store your data to, the most that you can do is to follow the steps below.

When it comes to making a backup, we suggest that you either use an external hard drive with enough memory or USB flash drive. Both of them are relatively easy to get and a lot of good brands are really very affordable.

Before we proceed to the main topic though, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.

Format the backup drive

Before you store your backup to either an external hard drive or a USB flash drive, be sure to format it properly. To minimize compatibility issues, use the current Windows 10 PC to do it.

How to format an external hard drive in Windows 10

  1. Connect the external hard drive to your Windows 10 PC.
  2. Right-click the Start button.
  3. Open Control Panel.
  4. Click Administrative Tools.
  5. Click Computer Management.
  6. Click Disk Management.
  7. Right-click on the drive or partition to format and click on Format.
  8. Select the file system and set the cluster size. Click OK to format the drive.

How to format a USB flash drive in Windows 10

  1. Plug in the USB flash drive to your computer.
  2. Open Windows File Explorer. If you already have one folder (any folder) open, proceed to the next step.
  3. On the left pane, look for your USB flash drive.
  4. Right click on the name of your flash drive.
  5. Click Format.

After clicking Format, a new window will provide a set of options that you can configure. Depending on what devices you’ll be using your flash drive with, we suggest that you use Fat 32. This file system is compatible with almost all popular operating systems so it offers you a wide range of compatibility options. However, Fat 32 is limited in terms of handling file sizes. The most that it manage is a file no larger than 4GB. If you’ll be moving files to the flash drive larger than 4GB, we suggest that you use NTFS file system.

For Allocation unit size, your preferred option should depend on the purpose you have in mind for this particular USB stick. Remember, the larger the allocation size you use, the faster your hard drive becomes. However, storage space will fill up a  lot quicker. If you have a small-sized USB flash drive like an 8GB or 16GB flash drive, consider using the default 4096 bytes.

For the Volume label, you can change it to whatever name you want so you can easily identify the drive.

  1. Once everything is set, hit the Start button at the bottom.
  2. Click OK once formatting is finished.

How to create Windows 10 backup

Now that the target destination for your backup has been prepared, it’s time to begin creating a full backup.

  1. Turn on your PC.
  2. Right-click on the Start button.
  3. Open Control Panel.
  4. Click on System and Security. If your Control Panel is arranged by either Large icons or Small icons, make sure to change it to Category in the View by tab.
  5. Click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  6. On the left pane, click the Create a system image.
  7. When the Where do you want to save the backup? window shows, select the On a hard disk option.
  8. Using the “On a hard disk” drop-down menu, select the storage to save the backup.
  9. Click the Start backup button.

The entire process of creating your backup may take a long time depending on the speed of your machine and the amount of data it has to work on. The backup will consist of a full backup of the operating system as well as other data found on the main drive.

With Windows 10, a new feature named Shadow Copy will be created during the backup process will allows you to continue using your machine even when the backup procedure in on the way.

After the backup process is finished, you can proceed with the creation of the system repair disc.

  1. As a final step, be sure to disconnect your backup drive properly and keep it in a safe place.

Steps on how to restore system image backup

The opposite of creating a backup is to restore the state of the operating system into a previous version. Some of the situations where you may want to restore a Windows image backup include:

    • no boot: Windows won’t run normally after restarting your PC.
    • new program installation gone wrong and you want to undo it


  • when replacing the hard drive of your computer


Since we’ve already covered the steps on how to create a full backup of your Windows 10 PC above, we presume that you’re seeking the steps below with a good backup handy. Obviously, you can only restore the previous operating system state if you managed to create a backup beforehand.

Below are the steps you want to follow:

  1. Connect the drive that contains the backup. It can be a USB flash drive or an external hard drive.
  2. Connect the disk that has the system repair files in it (the one you created after creating your backup).
  3. Start or restart the computer. The Windows Setup wizard should popup. If your phone boots back to the operating system and Windows Setup wizard did not appear, you’ll have to make sure that the BIOS settings of your machine is set to boot from USB or DVD. To know how to access BIOS settings in your machine, consult its documentation or contact the manufacturer.
  4. In Windows Setup page, hit Next.
  5. Hit Repair your computer found at the bottom-left corner.
  6. Click the Troubleshoot option.
  7. Click the System Image Recovery option.
  8. Choose the target OS (Windows 10).
  9. You should now be at the Re-image your computer page. Select the Use the latest available system image option.
  10. Click Next.
  11. If you’ve recently added a new hard drive to your computer and you want to use the previously saved backup, select the Format and repartition disks option. Using this option means that you want to erase everything in that drive including whatever partitions or data it may currently hold.
  12. Click Next.
  13. Click Finish.
  14. Click Yes to confirm that you want to proceed the re-imaging procedure.
  15. The restoration process will begin and may take some time depending on the speed of your computer.


We are here to help

If you are having a problem with your Windows computer, don’t hesitate to let us know about it. We understand how frustrating computer problems can be so, more so if you can’t find the right solutions at all. Our blog exists to help PC users and Windows community deal with their problems effectively. To engage with us, just fill out the questionnaire in this link and wait for our articles to be published. In order to help as many people as possible, we only provide our solutions via posts so please don’t expect that we will respond to your emails or private messages. By making all posts public, we can share our solutions to other users in a more efficient manner. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem.