How to Create Disk Image in Windows 10/11 [3 Free Ways]

Looking for a freeware to create disk image for Windows 10, 11? Try AOMEI Backupper, AOMEI Cyber Backup or Windows backup utility to create image backup from your hard drive.

Delia

By Delia Updated on December 19, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

What is a disk image for?

A disk image is an exact copy of a disk including all the files and the file system, boot sector, other metadata, etc. Creating a disk image makes a full backup of the hard drive with Windows 10/11 installed, and saves it as a single file that can be stored on internal/external drives or network locations.

There are some specific reasons why you might want to create a disk image:

✔ Data backup and recovery: Creating an image ensures that the original data on the disk is preserved. With a bit-by-bit copy, you can extract the desired data from the disk image anytime you need.

✔ Reducing downtime: A disk image serves as a backup in case of hardware failure or disaster recovery scenarios. By regularly creating disk images, you can restore computer to earlier state even after a severe failure.

✔ System deployment and cloning: Disk images are often used to deploy or clone a pre-configured OS and APP setup across hard drives or even computers/servers. For example, when you want to upgrade HDD to SSD, you can directly restore the disk image to the new drive without reinstalling.

This article will introduce how to create a disk image in Windows 10/11, and download disk image creator for free.

create disk image windows 10

How to create a disk image in Windows 10/11

There are different methods to create disk image. In Windows 10/11, 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:

Therefore, it's recommended to use robust and up-to-date disk imaging program for better efficiency.

Way 1. Download free creator to make disk image

To image the entire disk including Windows OS, settings, etc., you need to use specified disk imaging utilities.

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.
💿Bootable media creation It enables you to create a bootable media which can boot your computer into WinPE and perform offline system restore.

Hit the button below to download the free disk image creator:

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

How to create Windows 10 disk image with free tool

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. To create image backup from a disk, launch the main interface and select Disk Backup under Backup tab.

If you want to create complete system image (only OS) in Windows 10, then System Backup is what you need.

Disk Backup

2. Click Add Disk. In the pop-up window, choose the disk to be backed up and click Add.

Select Disk

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.

Select Destination Path

4. View the backup settings. If no problems, click Start Backup to execute the backup. The process won’t affect your current operation.

Start Backup

▪ 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, and USB plug in.
▪ 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.

Way 2. Try enterprise backup software to create disk image

If you want to backup hard drives on multiple computers, the best enterprise backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup can give you a hand.

  • It enables you to create system/disk/partition backup for a bunch of Windows PCs from one central console.
  • You are allowed to save backup images on a local disk, external hard drive, network share or NAS device, etc.
  • You can schedule a backup task to run every day/week/month using the full/incremental/differential backup method.

Download this powerful enterprise backup software now to have a try!

Download FreewareEasiest Enterprise Backup Software
Secure Download

To backup hard drives on client computers, follow these steps:

1. Install and run AOMEI Cyber Backup. The default username and password for AOMEI Cyber Backup are both "admin". Enter them and click Log in.

2. Click Source Device Windows Add Windows Device to add the Windows device that you want to backup. You need to enter the IP address, username and password of it.

3. Create a disk backup task.

  • Click Backup Task on the left menu bar and select Backup Task Create New Task.
  • Choose Disk Backup as the Backup Type.

Select Backup Type

  • Edit Task Name based on your need.
  • In the Device Name field, click Select + to select the device you just added.
  • In the Backup content field, click Select + to select one or multiple disks for backup.

Select Backup Disk

  • In the Target field, click Select + to add a local or network storage.

Choose Backup Target

  • Change the default schedule settings in the Schedule field.
  • Click Start Backup Add the schedule and start backup now to begin creating disk image.

Way 3. Use Windows built-in utility to create disk image

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. 

Create A System Image

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.

Select Usb

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.

Add Backup Drives

Disk image FAQs

Is ISO the same as disk image?
 
No, ISO file and disk image are not exactly the same, although they are related.
An ISO file is a digital representation of the contents of an optical disc, such as a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc. It contains all the files and folders that would be found on the physical disc, including the file system and data.
A disk image is a broader term that can refer to various types of digital representations of a disk or storage media. It can include not only optical discs (ISO files) but also other formats like disk images of hard drives, floppy disks, USB drives, and more.
Disk images can be used for various purposes, including backup, storage, and virtualization. So while an ISO file is a specific type of disk image, not all disk images are ISO files. Other disk image formats include IMG, DMG (used on macOS), VHD (Virtual Hard Disk), and many more, depending on the specific disk or storage media being represented.
What is the difference between disk image and disk clone?
 
A disk image and a disk clone are 2 different methods of creating a backup or exact copy of a computer's hard disk.
Disk Image: A disk image is a file that contains an exact replica of an entire disk or a specific partition. It includes not only the files and folders stored on the disk but also the file system, boot sector, and other metadata. Disk imaging captures the entire contents of the disk and saves it as a single file, which can be stored on external storage devices such as an external hard drive or network storage.
Disk Clone: A disk clone, on the other hand, is an exact replica of a disk created by directly copying the data from one disk to another. It involves duplicating the entire disk sector by sector, including the file system, partition table, boot sector, and all data. The cloned disk is an independent copy that can be used as a bootable drive.
Why is a disk image corrupted?
 
If you're encountering an error message stating "Couldn't mount file: the disk image file is corrupted", it indicates that the disk image you're trying to mount is damaged or incomplete. Here are a few suggestions to address it:
Verify the integrity of the disk image: Ensure that the disk image file you have downloaded or received is intact and hasn't been corrupted during the transfer process. You can try downloading the file again or obtain a fresh copy from a reliable source.
Repair the disk image: Some disk image formats support repair options. Check if there is an option to repair or restore the disk image using the software or utility associated with that format.
Try different mounting software: If the built-in tools are not successful, you can attempt to mount the disk image file using different software or utilities. There are various third-party applications available for mounting disk images on both macOS and Windows.
Extract files from the disk image: If you're unable to mount the corrupted disk image file, you may still be able to extract individual files or data from it. Some disk image software allows you to extract files without mounting the entire image. Remember to always keep backups of important files to minimize the impact of data loss or corruption.

Summary

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?

Delia
Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.