By Ivy / Last update June 23, 2021

About “Create a system image” in Windows 7

Create a system image feature in Windows 7 Backup and Restore is a helpful feature in backing up system. Windows 7 Backup and Restore allows its user to create a system image, which is an exact copy of the entire drive. 

This system image backup contains Windows OS and your system configurations, installed programs and created files. If the hard drive or system refuses to work, one can restore all contents of the computer via the system backup image.

When restoring from the backup image, a complete restore is performed. During this process, all current programs, system settings and files on the hard drive will be replaced. This system image contains only the drives that Windows needs to run. If you want to include other data drives, you can manually create a system image.

How to create a system image using Windows 7 utility?

In the first place, please connect the external device if you want to store the backup image outside. It is suggested to store the system image separately with the running system, so that it won’t be damaged if bad luck occurs.

Next, access to Windows 7 Backup and Restore “Create a system image” via Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore > Create a system image on the left pane.

Create a system image

Then, it will search for the device for a while and pop-up following window. Select the desire backup location. Here will take backup system to a new volume for example.

Save the backup image

Finally, you need to confirm the backup settings. The backup contains the EFI System Partition and entire C drive including your installed applications and created personal files. Click Start backup.

Confirm your backup settings


  • You need to format the hard drive to NTFS file system before you can use it as the backup storage.

  • If you choose network location as the backup storage, you can only create the latest backup image. All previous system images will be overwritten.

Better software to create a system image

It is quite simple to create a system image by using Backup and Restore in Windows 7. There are some drawbacks of this feature that you cannot ignore.

  • As it claims in Windows Help, you cannot select individual items for restore from the entire system image. That is to say, you have to either restore the entire system image to get the file backup image or backup system separately with your personal files.

  • You cannot create a system image to USB flash drive using Windows 7 Backup and Restore. This may be because that Microsoft thinks the USB flash drive is somewhat not solid to store system image. This may be set at an early time so even if the USB drive improves a lot recently, you will still get the warning of “the drive is not a valid backup location” and cannot continue the backup. This is quite awful since USB drive is of much convenience.

  • You can create a system image on current hard disk and later copy it to USB drive to solve above problem. However, the system image is more vulnerable to unauthorized access on these removable devices if you don’t encrypt it.

All in all, it is quite necessary to find an all-around Windows 7 Backup and Restore alternative. AOMEI Backupper Professional is such a backup utility that you can use it to create a system image, create image of entire disk, or create scheduled file backup in Incremental and Differential types. 

You are allowed to encrypt the backup image during the process. Scheduled create Windows 7 system image to USB flash drive is also available. More importantly, it will auto delete old backups if you set up. Let’s learn how to perform the task in this software.

Steps to create a Windows 7 system image to USB drive

1. Download AOMEI Backupper Professional 30 days free trial.

Download Free Trial Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

2. Install and run AOMEI Backupper. Click Backup and then System Backup.

System Backup

3. As you can see that the system drive C and the hidden EFI partition are selected by default. Now click the second bar to select USB drive as the destination path.

Select Backup Destination

4. You can set password encryption in Options; set backup mode (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Event-trigger) and backup type (Full, Incremental, Differential) in Schedule; and set auto delete old backup scheme in Scheme. Then click Start Backup.

Set Settings

Tips: For advanced users, AOMEI Backupper offers create a system image via command line function with AMBackup.exe program.

Don’t you find it is quite easy to create a system image with the help of AOMEI Backupper? To be honest, both methods are fine yet the latter one safeguards more for you system. You can create a bootable USB drive in Tools to backup hard drive without booting Windows if the need ever arises. Also, you can transfer Windows 7 to a new hard drive using its Clone feature.