Ever since I was a wee little child, I remember the pull-the-plug moments that every Windows operating system (OS) we ever had. At a certain point, the system slows down to a halt, perhaps has trouble starting up, or repetitively gives you that ominous blue screen of death.
I remember first thinking that my family needed to get a new computer, but my dad was smarter than that. We would instead reinstall the Windows OS (also known as a clean install), thus wiping the OS of all troublesome data and having it run just like new. Clean installs often did the trick, but there was something a little troubling about them.
The Problem with the Clean Install
While performing a clean install tended to work really well and (at least to us) was less tedious than troubleshooting our computers back to health, there was one aspect of it that was really annoying. In order to reinstall Windows, we had to reformat our hard drive, clearing it of all its data. Because of this, we would have to:
- Back up all important files
- Reinstall all desired programs (many with missing installation discs) on the newly installed OS
- Reinstall necessary drivers to get hardware working (usually not an issue at all with Windows 7, but it still can be)
- Move back-ed up files back to the reformatted hard drive
- Reconfigure software and browser settings back as desired
Solution: Backup System Image
To avoid all the pains of having to perform the above bulleted list, Windows 7 has this awesome feature which lets you create a backup system image which has a frozen state of your current OS configuration (every file, detail and program) and lets you boot back to this state if anything ever goes south.
When to Create a Backup Image
The best time to create a backup system image is right after performing a clean install and reinstalling all desired software and tweaking the OS back as desired. You want to backup a state where your OS is operating just as new and every program is ready to go.
How to Create a Backup Image
The process of creating and saving a backup system image is actually very easy, requiring only the following:
- Click Start (Window button) and open the Control Panel.
- In the Control Panel, select Back up your computer under System and Security.
- Select Create a system image or Set up backup; they both serve the same function.
- Save the image to a backup DVD or external hard drive.
When you want to start fresh from that save state, click Start (Window button) and open the Control Panel. Type recovery into the search query in Windows explorer, and click Recovery when the search result brings it up. From here, click Advanced recovery methods, and select Use system image and pick the system image you saved earlier.