How to Restore System Image from External Hard Drive?

July 30, 2019

Restore system image from external hard drive is a popular way for restoring Windows 7/8/10. And this article will tell you the ways to restore Windows from external hard drive.

System image is important to computer users

A system image is an exact copy of a drive which including Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. A system image is important to computer users, because it is useful when your hard drive or computer failed -- you can use the system image to restore the entire contents of your computer.

Create system image to an external hard drive and restore from it

Computer users know that it is necessary to create system image after install the Windows operating system, but where to image system on? There are many place you can choose, the local hard drive, external hard drive, or you can backup to NAS (network attached storage). Truthfully, create system image to an external hard drive is the best way for its security and its stability. Even the hard drive broken, you can ensure the security of your system image. And when the computer crashed, you can restore all data from the system image.

Restore system image from external hard drive with Windows built-in tool

To restore image from external hard drive, you need create a system image to external hard drive before, and a system repair disc (when you finish creating a system image, then Windows will ask you if you would like to create a system repair disc on a CD or DVD. And you should create one because it will boot your computer and and restore your system image from a serious error). Then, when you need to restore the system image, you can restore from it.

If your computer can still boot normally, you can restore system image directly. Take an example of Windows 7.

Step1.Open the recovery tool in Windows. In Windows 7, open the Backup and Restore by clicking Start-> Control Panel-> System and Security. Then, select Recover system settings or your computer.

Recovery System Settings

Step2. Go to the advanced recovery settings by clicking Advanced recovery methods.

Advanced Recovery Methods

Step3. Then, in the Advanced options screen, click “Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer” option and follow the wizard to select the system image and restore the system image from external hard drive.

Recovery Your Computer

However, if your computer cannot boot, you need use the system repair disc to boot your computer first to restore your Windows.

1. Insert the system repair disc to restart you computer with its power button.

2. Press any key to start the computer from the system repair disc.

Notes: if your computer isn’t start from the CD/DVD, you need to check for it and you may need to change the BIOS settings.

3. After choose the language settings, click Repair your computer, and select a recovery option, then, click Next.

The Windows built-in tool can recovery system image, but it is difficult to people who do not know much about computer. So here, we will introduce you a third-party software that can restore system image from external hard drive with simple steps.

Restore system image from external hard drive with third-party software

How to restore system image backup from external hard drive with third-party software? First, you need to find a powerful third-party software, and here we highly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Standard, a powerful freeware which can help you create Windows 10/8/7 system image and restore your Windows from it with a simple few clicks that even a non-technician can operate it easily. But before you restoring system image from external hard drive, you need do something to prepare for it.

1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard free, install and launch it. Create a system image to an external hard drive with AOMEI Backupper. This could be used to restore system image from external hard drive.

2. Create bootable media for booting your computer with AOMEI Backupper, you can create a bootable CD/DVD or a bootable USB hard drive or flash drive. AOMEI Backupper Professional also provides you use AOMEI PXE boot tool to help you boot your computer if it cannot boot successfully.

Then, you can use this freeware to restore system image from external hard drive. You can follow the guide below.

Step1.If your computer cannot boot, you need use the bootable media or AOMEI PXE tool to boot your computer -- insert the bootable media and the external hard drive with your Windows system image, press a special key (usually F8) to enter the BIOS mode to select where to boot from, and you will get into the interface of AOMEI Backupper.

Boot Order

Step2. Click Restore, and click Select Task to select the system image from the external hard drive you created before and restore data from it (If your computer can still boot, launch the freeware, and click Restore directly).


Step3. Then, you need to select the backup image. Click Next to move on.

Select Backup Image

Step4. Choose Restore this system backup and click Next to continue.

Select Restore Location

Note: If you want to restore to a different location, you can tick Restore system to other location and select a partition.

Step5. Then, you can confirm all information about the operations. If there is no problem, click Start Restore, the operations will be executed.

When the progress reached 100%, click Finish to exit.

Start Restore


  • The Sector by sector restorewill restore every byte on the hard drive, which will take more time and occupy more space, which is not recommended to check.

  • The Enable Universal Restore is for users to restore system from one computer to another, but it only exists in the AOMEI Backupper Professional edition. If you would like to do a universal restore, you need to upgrade your Standard edition to the Professional edition.

AOMEI Backupper Standard should be the best freeware for backup and restore, cause it can not only help you create and restore system image from external hard drive in Windows 7, but do many important things for you to secure your computer and data. You can use it to only backup system, or backup files/folders, even a single partition, and you can use it to clone the entire hard drive, partition, system, even sync file free. What important is that it is a great powerful software that suitable for Windows PC users including Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10. In a word, it is worth to use with its free payment.