When things go wrong with Windows, as they sometimes will, nothing ensures a faster or easier return to normal than restoring a recent image backup.
To that end, I back up my production PCs at 9 a.m. every day. That means that I’ll never lose more than a day’s work if something should go badly enough wrong to force that day’s image backup to be restored.
In the sections that follow, I explain what all this means, how it works, and why you shouldn’t use built-in backup in either Windows 10 or 11. Finally, I’ll walk you through how to use my favorite free image backup tool while recommending a couple of other acceptable alternatives.
What is an image backup, anyway?
Simply put, an image backup is a snapshot of the complete contents of all partitions on a computer’s C: drive. In other words, it’s an exact copy (“image”) of the drive — operating system, data files, settings, and all — not just the files stored on it. Image backups are sometimes called system image backups, whole-system backups, full system backups, or other variations on that theme.