👉 What is System Backup?
👉 Why is a Regular System Backup Necessary?
👉 How to Backup Operating System in Windows 11/10/8/7
👉 Useful Tips for System Restore

What is System Backup?

A system backup includes all the system files, boot files, and program files in simple terms. Backing up both the system and boot partitions can ensure that the operating system works normally after system recovery. If only one of them has been backed up, the operating system may fail to work after restoring from the backup image. Therefore, it is necessary to know what the system partition and boot partition really are.

System partition: the partition that installs the operating system, applications, and saves your personal files. That is the so-called C Drive. System files require relatively more space. For example, the system files of Windows 7 require at least 8 GB.
Boot partition: the partition that stores boot files, including boot.ini, ntldr, bcd, winload.exe, etc. Boot files require relatively less space, generally less than 200MB.

Before the introduction of Windows 7, the earlier operating systems such as Windows XP, Vista, as well as Windows Server 2003, had the system and boot partitions combined together. That is to say, the boot partition was a system partition and the system partition was a boot partition. Thus, with those earlier operating systems, we just need to backup one partition during system backup.

In Windows 7 and later operating systems, the system partition and boot partition are usually separated. The system partition is the C Drive that can be accessed normally, while the boot partition is a 200MB or bigger partition, named "System Reserved Partition". The boot partition usually does not have a drive letter, and we cannot access it in Windows Explorer. When running system backup in Windows 10/8.1/8/7, we should have these two partitions included.

Fortunately, the free system backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard has provided the specially designed function of "System Backup", which can automatically detect these two partitions that need to be backed up. In addition, during system restore, it will automatically restore the backed up files to two respective partitions. It offers us one-key operations of system backup & restore.

what is system backup

Why is a Regular System Backup Necessary?

In general, when the operating system has been used for a long time, most users would face the problem of system crash, and there can be many other hard disk errors that prevent the system from working normally. In such cases, reinstalling the operating system is a viable solution. However, OS reinstallation is time-consuming. It requires at least half an hour at a time. And then it can take many hours to install various drivers and applications.

To save a lot of time and effort, we could create system image backup immediately after a new operating system and some commonly-used applications are installed. It is also wise to do a full system backup at intervals no matter how old the computer is. Thus, if there is any system problem, the system can be restored to the lastest normal state.

For people with busy schedules or who can't remember to do regular backups, a better option might be using a handy backup tool to perform scheduled system backups automatically.

How to Backup Operating System in Windows 11/10/8/7

AOMEI Backupper provides a one-key function of system backup for Windows 7/8/8.1/10/11 and even earlier operating systems like Windows Vista and XP. To be specific:

  • It can backup system and boot partitions to an image file easily, and other hidden partitions are also backed up during the system state backup, including EFI System Partition (ESP), Recovery Partition, etc. 

  • Meanwhile, it possesses the function of compression which can reduce the storage space required for the system image backup file to the largest extent.

  • It contains complete schedule options allowing you to perform operating system backup automatically. It also provides advanced users with incremental and differential backup options, so as to improve the backup efficiency and further save the storage space.

Before system state backup, please:
Do a system cleaning and delete some useless temporary files. Because the more applications you have installed on the system drive, the bigger the image file will be and the more space it will take. Also, you don't need to restore useless files in the future.
Download the free system backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard to have a try.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

✌ Good to Know: The programs and personal data (like photos, music, documents, etc) in C drive are also backed up with the OS.

1. Download AOMEI Backupper, install and launch it. Then, click "System Backup" under the "Backup" tab.

System Backup

2. Modify the “Task Name” to distinguish it from other backup tasks. The program will select the system and boot partitions by default as the source. And then choose a destination path to save the system backup. You can backup computer to USB, external drive, network share, NAS, etc.

Select Destination

3. Click "Start Backup" to begin system backup in Windows 11/10/8/7.

Start Backup


  • "Options": Customize the settings based on your own needs. You are allowed to comment for system backup to distinguish it from other backups, compress the system backup image file, split large system image file into smaller ones, enable email notification to get alert after the system backup is finished, etc.


  • "Schedule Backup": to get the latest changes since the full system backup and protect your system continuously. You may specify the intervals in Schedule Backup to backup system automatically on a regular basis, such as Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers and USB plug in.

Schedule Settings

  • "Backup Scheme": it enables you to choose backup method from full/incremental/differential backup. You can also set up rules to delete older backups automatically so that there is enough space on your backup location. Please note "Differential Backup" and "Automatic Backup Cleanup" are only supported by advanced editions like AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Enable Scheme Backup

4. When the system backup is in progress, you can click the settings icon and tick the box before "Check backup integrity on completion" to make sure the system backup image is valid for restore. You can also choose what you need your computer to do after system backup is completed, such as shutdown, restart, etc.

Check Backup Integrity

5. Click "Finish" option when the OS backup operation is done.

Backup Finish

In addition, the operations of system backup will not interrupt your work. That is to say, you can do system backup while working on the computer. The time the system backup process will take is determined by the amount of the valid data. More valid data costs more time to do system backup.

Useful Tips for System Restore

AOMEI Backupper provides different methods for you to restore system backup.

  • If your system crashes or disk fails, you can create a bootable media to boot your computer into WinPE, and use the system image file to restore system to previous state.

  • To run backup and restore operations without booting Windows, you can also create recovery environment in advance. Please note the recovery environment will become invalid if your C drive is wiped or damaged.

  • If you buy a new computer and don't want to reinstall the system, you can use "Universal Restore" with a bootable media to restore a system image created on previous computer, even with dissimilar hardware.

  • If you just want to restore individual files or folders instead of the entire backup, you can mount the system image as virtual partitions with "Explore Image".

  • If you want to create a system image backup and save it on a custom recovery partition, AOMEI OneKey Recovery can do you a favor.

  • If you are a system admin or service provider who manages and maintains a large batch of computers, AOMEI Image Deploy enables you to deploy system image to multiple computers simultaneously over network.