What is a disk image?
A disk image is an exact copy of a certain disk. Creating a disk image in Windows 10 or Windows 11 refers to making a full backup of the hard drive with Windows installed. You can keep this disk image as a means of data and disaster recovery, or use it for disk migration.
For example, with a disk image on external drive or cloud, you can restore Windows 10 PC to an earlier state even after a severe system failure. And when you want to replace the hard disk (such as upgrading HDD to SSD), you can directly restore the disk image to the new drive without reinstallation and data transferring.
Since creating a disk image is useful, how to do it in Windows 10 exactly?
How to make a disk image in Windows 10
For ordinary data, such as documents, audio and video files, you can copy and paste them directly in File Explorer. But this does not work for some complex system files and hidden files. To image the entire disk including Windows OS, settings, etc., you need to use specified imaging utilities.
In Windows 10, you can use the built-in Backup and Restore, which is inherited from Windows 7. However, due to its longevity, this tool is relatively cumbersome and error-prone. You may receive errors such as:
- The drive is not a valid backup location
- There is not enough disk space to create the volume shadow copy of the storage location
- No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found
Therefore, it's recommended to use robust and up-to-date disk imaging program for better efficiency.
Way 1. Use freeware to create disk image in Windows 10
AOMEI Backupper Standard, the best free Windows 10 disk imaging software, can image hard disk in Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP including hidden partitions effortlessly. AOMEI Backupper supports:
✔ Many file systems: NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, EXT2, EXT3, etc.
✔ Various storage devices: external hard disks, solid state drives (SSD), USB flash drives, thumb drives, network attached storage (NAS), hardware RAID, dynamic disks, discs (CD/DVD), etc.
✔ Complete backup options: it is not only a disk image creator of Windows 10, but also an effective backup tool for files/folders, partitions and operating system.
Hit the download button below to get the freeware now:
Steps to create Windows 10 disk image with AOMEI Backupper
For the concise design of AOMEI Backupper, even a computer novice can create a hard disk image in Windows 10 without needing any help. And this is a guarantee for data security in Windows 10 or when you want to upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11 without losing files. Let’s see how it works:
1. Select Disk Backup under Backup tab to create image from disk. If you want to create complete system image in Windows 10, then System Backup is what you need.
2. Click Add Disk. In the pop-up window, choose the disk to be backed up and click Add.
3. Select a location to store the disk image file by clicking the second column. Although it supports backing up to critical volume, it’s recommended to keep the backup offsite.
4. View the backup settings. If no problems, click Start Backup to execute the backup. The process won’t affect your current operation.
>> Backup Options: email notification, compression level, intelligent sector or sector-by-sector backup, etc.
>> Schedule Backup: set the backup task to run automatically based on Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in (the last 2 modes are available in advanced editions).
>> Backup Scheme: choose full/incremental/differential backup, and create a retention policy for automatic backup cleanup (you need to upgrade to advanced editions to enjoy this feature).
✍ Helpful tips:
- Create Recovery Environment: you could consider using a self-booting recovery environment to access Windows recovery environment and then easily perform system backup restore or other backups restore operations when the system crashes (available in advanced editions).
- Create Bootable Media: the recovery environment created by AOMEI Backupper is kept under the path C:\Aomei Recovery. If your C drive is wiped or damaged, you can create a bootable USB/CD/DVD to boot a problematic PC into WinPE and then perform a full disk restore. With this bootable media, you can also restore Windows 10 image to different hardware by ticking Universal Restore (available in advanced editions) when restoration.
▶ Learn more from video tutorial:
Way 2. Windows 10 create disk image with built-in backup tool
1. Search for "backup" and open Backup settings from the result, then click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
2. In the pop-up window, click "Create a system image" to get started.
3. It will auto select all the drives required by Windows 10 to run, you can choose a destination for the disk image, such as external hard drive.
4. Then select additional drives you want to back up. If you want to create an image of the entire hard disk, just tick all the drives displayed, and click "Start backup" to create the disk image.
You see it’s quite easy to create disk image in Windows 10 via AOMEI Backupper. With a disk image at hand, disk recovery can also be realized with a few clicks. Besides, you can use Disk Clone to create a copy of your hard disk without performing disk imaging in Windows 10.
If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network. Why not try it now?