By Delia / Last update October 18, 2022

What can an ISO image do for you?

It is very important to backup your operating system just in case. Thus when your system crashes due to various problems, you can quickly roll it back to the state where the backup was taken.

If the backup is ISO image, then you can enjoy some more benefits compared with other image backup format:

  • The ISO image itself is bootable so you can use it to restore your PC when you have boot issues.
  • It is very convenient to deploy it to other devices.
  • It can be standalone from backup tools or cloud services.
  • You can view its content by mounting it as a virtual drive.
  • You can run the ISO image on a virtual machine.

In the following, I will describe how to create an ISO image from your operating system.

Create Windows 10/11 ISO from the current installation

Windows 10/11 has built-in feature DISM that allows you to capture Windows image under recovery environment. To use it, you need a Windows 10/11 recovery media or installation disk. With that prepared, you can follow the steps below to capture Windows 10 recovery image as well as Windows 11 recovery image. Below will take Windows 10 as an example.

1. Boot your PC from the recovery media or installation media.

2. If you boot from the installation disc, you can press Shift + F10 at Windows Setup screen to bring out command prompt. If you boot from a recovery media, then select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.

3. Type the following command and press Enter.

dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:D:\windows10\install.wim /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:windows10

Note: The drive letter may change under recovery mode, so the Windows installation drive may not be C: drive. In that case, you need to replace the drive letter "C" with where the Windows installed, and replace “D:\windows10” in ImageFile switch with the target location path where you want to save the custom image.

Capture Reset Image

This process might take a while and you cannot turn off the PC during the time. Please be patient until it finishes.

Note: If you want to use this image in another computer, then it's necessary to remove SID (System Identifier) by sysprep. This step should be done before capturing the image.

How to make the ISO image file bootable

The created image file can be used to reset Windows 10/11 PC. To make it a bootable ISO image, follow these steps, here will take Windows 10 as an example:

1. Open Windows 10 installation disc in File Explorer. Copy its contents and paste to a folder on your internal or external hard drive. For example, copy them to a folder named “iso-files” located on D: drive. You can also mount a Windows 10 ISO and copy its content.

2. Copy the custom image install.wim created before to the Source folder and replace the original one.

3. Download and install the latest Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10. You only need to select Deployment Tools to install.

Deployment Tools

4. Run the command following command on an elevated command prompt.

oscdimg.exe -m -o -u2 -udfver102 -bootdata:2#p0,e,b[path of the iso-files]\boot\,e,b[path of the iso-files]\efi\microsoft\boot\efisys.bin [path of the iso-files][new location to save the iso image of the current windows]

The command is kind of complicated. To make it easy, you can also use a free tool such as Folder2ISO to create ISO file of Windows 10 out of the folder you created in step 1.

Easier way to prepare system image and bootable WinPE disk

The purpose of creating an ISO image from current operating system is usually making a bootable recovery drive, or deploying system to another computer. If you find above steps troublesome and error-prone, you can try an easier workaround to achieve similar objectives, that is, to create a system image backup and a WinPE bootable media.

Both of the operations can be done with the free backup tool - AOMEI Backupper Standard. It works in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP.  With it, you can create a system backup image through several clicks, and create bootable media via USB or CD/DVD.

Thus when your system crashes, you can easily restore it to an earlier state without losing data - this works well even when you want to return Windows 11 to Windows 10. And if the problem was severe enough that you couldn't get into Windows, you can still boot the computer from the bootable media to perform system recovery in WinPE.

  • It contains powerful backup & restore features for system/file/partition/disk.
  • It can create and manage multiple automatic backup tasks with different schedules.
  • If you want to use the system image on another computer, you can use the dissimilar hardware restore option in Professional edition.

How to create Windows 10/11 ISO image from existing installation

1. Download the free backup software from the Download Center or the button below, then install and launch it.

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

2. Select System Backup under Backup Tab. In daily use, you can also choose other options as needed.

System Backup

3. The program will automatically include required partitions for a full system restore. Just specify a destination location to store the backup image.

Select Destination

4. You can set up a Backup Schedule to automate the task, or perform incremental or differntial backup in Backup Scheme to backup only changed files each time. After that, click Start Backup to execute it.

Auto deletion: You can enable automatic backup cleanup in Backup Scheme to auto delete backup images older than x days (availble in Professional edition). It can help you save storage space.

start backup

The created system backup task will show in the Home page. You can either manage it directly, or go to Restore tab for system recovery.

How to create a bootable media

1. Go to Tools tab and choose Create Bootable Media.

create bootable media

2. Select the bootable disc type, it's recommended to choose Windows PE. The created disc is compatible with both legacy/MBR and UEFI/GPT.

Windows PE

3. Then you can select bootable media as USB, CD/DVD, or export the ISO file directly. Click Next to start creating the media.

select media

With the created bootable media and system image, you can easily restore Windows to an earlier normal state. 

If your computer fails without any preparation, you could create the system image and bootable media on another working computer, and use them to perform Universal Restore on the faulty PC.
You can also create a recovery environment in AOMEI Backupper Professional. Once the recovery environment is created and enabled, the "AOMEI Backupper Recovery Environment" option will be added to the system boot menu page so that you can select to start the system from the recovery environment to restore Windows ISO image to new hard drive.

Add Boot Option

Alterantive: Onekey system backup and system recovery solution

Instead of creating a system image backup and bootable media separately, you can run onekey system backup with AOMEI OneKey Recovery. It allows you to save system image on a custom recovery partition which is accessible from Windows PE.

OneKey System Backup

Final words

In addition to creating ISO image from your operating system using DISM, you can also create custom system image and bootable drive via AOMEI Backupper. With it, you can set up a scheduled backup to keep your system image up to date, and choose incremental or differential mode to save only changed files each time. 

If you want to protect unlimited computers within company, you can choose AOMEI Backupper Technician. It allows you to deploy or restore system image file to multiple clients over network, perform portable USB backup without installing this software on different computers, etc.