A system image is a copy of the current state of your computer’s hard disk. It includes all the system settings, files, and the Windows configuration. You can use a system image to recover your data and computer settings in the case of failure of your hard disk drive. All of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced with the contents of the system image, but you cannot restore individual files or settings with this process.
A system image can also be used when deploying Windows 7 to multiple computers. Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) provides additional functionality for Windows 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2–based operating system images. In Windows 7, you can use DISM to enumerate drivers, packages (including updates), and features in the image. You can also use DISM to add and remove flat file drivers from a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 system image. DISM consolidates functions previously found across several tools.
Notably, you can also use DISM to manage Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) images; DISM can manage international configurations and can be used for mounting and unmounting WIM images. Previously, these functions were spread across the PEImg, IntlConfig, and ImageX tools. Finally, DISM contains changes that allow for backward compatibility with Package Manager (PKGMGR) commands that were used for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 image files to help ensure that existing tools and scripts written for previous versions of the Windows AIK continue to work. ImageX is still provided with the Windows AIK for system image creation and application functions.
Creating a System Image in Windows 7:
Click Start and type back up in the start search bar. Click Back up your computer from the search results.
In the left pane of the Backup and Restore Center window, click Create a system image.
Choose a medium to store the system image. You can back up the system image on an external drive, on DVDs, or on a computer on the network.
Select the drives you want to back up. Click Next.
On the Confirm your settings page, select Start backup.
After the process is complete, you get the option to create a system repair disc. Click Yes to create the system repair disk. Insert a blank CD or DVD to create the image.
You can now find the system image folder named WindowsImageBackup.
Recovering a Computer Using a System Image:
You can only do a system image recovery to a hard disk drive that is the same size or larger than the one the system image was created from. You will not be able to do a system image recovery to a smaller hard disk drive. If your backup image is on an external device, then connect the external drive before starting. A system image recovery will format everything on each hard drive that was included in the system image, and will only restore what is in the system image. To start the recovery of the system, perform these steps:
Connect the external drive on which you have stored the system image.
Click Start, then click Control Panel, and then click Back up your computer.
Click Recover system settings on your computer.
Click Advanced recovery methods.
Select Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer.
If you want to create the backup immediately, select Back up now, or click Skip and continue the system image recovery without backing up any of your current files. click Restart.
Select a language to be used for your keyboard input and click Next.
Select the system image for recovery using either of the two options:
To use a latest system image for recovery, select Use the latest available system image and click Next.
To select a system image for recovery, select the location of the backup image for the computer you want to restore from the list, and click Next. Then select the date and time of the system image to restore, and click Next.
After selecting the system image, select the Format and repartition disks box.
If you want to recover only those drives that are required to run Windows, select the check box Only restore system drives. Click Next.
Click Finish and then click Yes.
Windows will now start restoring your computer from the system image. Once the restoration is complete, click Restart Now.
If you chose to create the backup immediately in step 6, you will see the option Restore my file after the computer restarts. Select this option to restore the files.