What Is Windows 10 Full Backup and How to Create One

You will learn 3 types of backup including what is a full backup and how to create Windows 10 full system backup.


by Ivy Updated on October 19, 2022

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What Is a Full Backup?

A full backup is a complete backup for all data in the designated folders, files or drive, and represents the data at the time of backup completion, and it has the minimal time to restore data quickly. However, it will take a longer time to backup than other backup types and occupy a lot of storage space

And the most important thing is that the full backup is the baseline for any other backups, like incremental, differential, synthetic full backup, etc., which means you have to create a full backup before creating an incremental or differential backup.

Full Backup

Full Backup vs Incremental Backup vs Differential Backup

Besids full backup, you may also hear incremental backup, differential backup, in which are the most common three basic backup types. 

In general terms, the Incremental backup and differential backup will only backup files, but with different bases. The incremental backup is based on last backup, whether it's a full backup or incremental. While for differential backup, it always based on last full backup. In view of this, there are some differences between them in different aspects. 

  Full Backup Incremental Backup Differential Backup
Backup Speed Longest  Shortest  Shorter
Restore Speed Fastest  Slowest  Slower 
Restore Items Lastest full backup or any of them Last full backup and all linked incremental backup. Last full backup and or one of differential backup

In sum, you can clearly see the advantages and disadvantages of full backup, incremental backup and differential backup in the above chart. And the full backup is worth trying if you want a faster and simpler restore process.

In addition, there are some other backup types, like synthetic full backup (assemble a full backup with subsequent incremental backups), mirroring, etc. And all the mentioned backup types usually used in SQL Server database, Exchange 2013/2016/2019, home and work environment, etc.

Windows Built-in Full Backup Software Is not Convenient 

A full backup could be the complete backup for a disk, partition, file(s) or Windows operating system, even a complete PC backup depending on your demands. There are different ways you could use to make full backup nowadays:

  • File History (backup files in library, desktop, contacts, favorites).

  • Windows Backup and Restore (backup files in library, Windows folder, system image).

  • Command prompt.

However, you have to use different tools to create full backup for disk, partition, or file(s). And there are some limitations that you have to pay attention to:

  • Backup and Restore does not restore individual files.

  • Backup and Restore only supports restoring system to larger drive (HDD or SSD) using an installation disc or recovery drive

  • File History could not backup other data on your hard disk or partitions.

  • File History, Windows Backup and Restore both of them could not backup data to cloud.

  • The command prompt is complex to operate for freshman and ordinary people.

How to Create Full System Backup in Windows 10 

The Windows built-in tools help you create a full backup in Windows 10, but it's not convenient, since none of them supports all the backup solutions. Try the best free Windows full backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard if you want an all-in-one software.  With it, you can do more than you think:

It supports creating a full backup for a disk (even backup multiple hard drives), system, partition and files. Also, it is still able to create an incremental backup or differential backup. 
It is capable of backing up Windows 10 to external hard drive, USB drive, network drive, cloud drive, etc. 
It allows you to perform a corresponding restore within one software. The selective file restore and universal restore (advanced feature) are supported.
It is able to create a bootable USB or CD/DVD to boot computer when it fails. 

Thanks to its intuitive interface, all users can create full backup in Windows 7/8/10/11 easily. Please download AOMEI Backupper Standard to have a try! 

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

(PS: The free version only supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.)

Here we take an example to create a full system image for Windows 10. If you want to create a complete PC backup, try Disk Backup feature.

1. Select Backup - > System Backup on the main window. 

System Backup

2. Choose a destination disk to save the Windows 10 full backup image. The partitions associated with system files, boot files will be automatically selected other than manually. 

Select Destination

Tip: It’s highly recommended to backup Windows 10 to external hard disk, SSD, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, NAS, network share, etc.

3. By default, this software uses Incremental backup as backup method. To create a full backup in Windows, please enable Backup Scheme and then select Full Backup as instead. 

Configure Backup Method

If you don't want to make a full backup manually or afford data loss due to forgetting to backup system, please enable schedule backup to make this task automatically.

You have 5 options, including daily, weekly, monthly, Event triggers, or USB plug in, and the last two options are only available on the professional version. Please upgrade now to enjoy it!

Schedule Settings General

Schedule system backup will result in backup disk full issue sooner or later, to prevent it from beginning, it's suggested to enable automatic backup cleanup in the backup scheme. Then, it will delete old backup images regularly according to the selected cleanup methods.

By Quantity

4. Click Start Backup -> Add the schedule and start backup now to create a full backup of Windows 10.

Besdies full backup, you still can try incremental or differential backup to backup only created or modified data every time. This save much disk space and backup time.
✿ You could choose Only add the schedule option to add the task and it will run it at the specified time set in Schedule Backup option.

You will get the full system backup image for Windows 10, suffix with .adi, on the destination path. Please DO NOT modify or move it to other destination manually.

To change the target path, you could go Home -> find the full backup, and choose the three bars symbol -> Edit Backup, and choose another location for the Windows 10 full backup.  

Edit Backup

To restore full backup in Windows 10, switch to Home -> find the full backup, click Restore -> select Restore this system image -> optionally, check Restore system to other location -> select destination disk to receive the backup image and click Start Restore. 

Restore System Image

Besids system restore between two hard drives, you still can restore system to new computer with different hardware with the help of Universal Restore feature. More surprising, you can even deploy system image to multiple computers simultaneously (in technician or techplus edition) if you want to install system for 20 computers or more.


This article introduces you 3 types of backup including the full backup meaning and a step-by-step guide to creating a full system backup in Windows 10. You can use it in Windows 11 or previous XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1.  AOMEI Backupper Standard is the recommended backup software, since it not only supports all backup solutions but also 3 backup types, thus you can combine them according to your needs.

The biggest advantage of a full backup is that it has very low recovery requirements and the fastest recovery speed. And you are able to minimize backup time and disk space with many backup features, such as, automatic backup cleanup, normal or high compression level, intelligent sector backup , automatic or customized splitting, etc. All in all, it's a worth trying software to protect computer!

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.