By Delia / Last update June 21, 2022

Necessity of hard drive backup

No matter which system you are using, there are many possible reasons that could lead to data loss, such as system error, virus attack, hard drive failure and human mistake. If you've ever met a computer crash, you should know how it feels without doing backup in advance. A hard drive backup including OS and all the files in this case can be a life saver, which enables you to retrieve all the data and recover the computer to a normal state. 

The question is, how can you do free hard drive backup for Windows 10, 11 or even earlier system?

hard disk

Free hard drive backup options for Windows 10

Windows 10 inherits the Backup and Restore features from Windows 7. It enables you to back up libraries and folders or create a system image that can be used for bare metal recovery

When making a system image backup, in addition to the auto-selected system partitions, you can also include additional drives in the backup, which allows you to create a recoverable full disk backup.

How to access Backup and Restore:

Go to "Control Panel" > "System and Security" > "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)", or directly search for "backup settings" and select it from the pop-up window.

Then you can click Create a system image on the left panel to get started:

Create A System Image

After specifying a destination, just select all the drives on the disk to make a free hard drive backup for Windows 10.

Choose C Drive

It's may not difficult to make a backup in this way, but what you should know is that as an earlier utility comes with Windows 7, Backup and Restore has some limitations in functionality, and is relatively error-prone especially in recent OS like Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Backup and Restore limitations:

  • It only backs up partitions formatted as NTFS file system.
  • It only backs up partitions with drive letters, so a hidden recovery paritition will not be included.
  • A USB drive is likely not to be recognized as the backup destination.
  • You may encounter various problems in backup and recovery process, such as error 0x80042302, error 0x80780038, error 0x80042412, etc.

Based on the above items, the build-in utility may not be the best way to create free hard drive backup for Windows 10, 11. Instead, you can pick a free hard drive backup software with more powerful functionality.

Download the best free hard drive backup software

Among numerous backup software on the market, AOMEI Backupper Standard is a qualified free hard drive backup software for Windows 11/10/8/7/XP and Vista. It has a powerful Disk Backup feature that can create a backup image or the entire hard drive, as well as System Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup to suit your needs.

Besides the basic backup options, it offers you more convenience with the following features:

Schedule backup: You can create daily, weekly, monthly automatic backup in Windows 10/11 with simple setup.
Backup method: Perform full backup, or create incremental backup to save only changed data in the subsequent backups.
Sector-by-sector backup: Different from the default intelligent-sector mode (copy only used sectors), this option copies everything, including unused/logically bad sectors on the hard drive, which helps to backup hidden recovery partition.
Useful backup options: Backup comment, email notification, backup compression, etc.

In addition, AOMEI Backupper is also a file synchronization and disk cloning software, which is especially useful for hard drive migration. You can click on the button below to start the hard disk backup software free download:

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

Now I will illustrate the steps to create free hard drive backup for Windows 10 as an example.

How to backup hard drive in Windows 10/11 with the free software

Preparations:

  • Download and install the free hard drive backup software on your Windows 10 computer.
  • If you want to save the backup on a removable device, connect it first and make sure it can be detected.

1. Launch the main interface of the software. Select "Backup" and then "Disk Backup" to create a full backup including everything on the hard drive.

✎ If you want to back up the system-related partitions only, choose "System Backup" instead.

Disk Backup

2.  Click "Add Disk" to select the source hard drive you want to backup.

 You can add multiple disks to back up at once, but you can only restore them disk one by one.

Add Disk

3. Now, select a destination as you like to store the disk image. You can choose from the local disk, external hard drive, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, NAS, network share and cloud.

 You can click "Schedule Backup" to set up a daily/weekly/monthly automatic disk backup.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Click "Start Backup" to execute the hard drive backup for Windows 10, and wait until the operation is complete. Click "Finish" to exit the interface.

Backup Finish

No you've completed the backup. With the disk image in hand, you can use it to restore the computer any time you need. In case the comptuer fails to boot some day, you can also create a bootable USB, which can be used to start the problematic PC and perform backup and restore in WinPE.

As a free hard drive backup software, AOMEI Backupper Standard enables you to complete the above mentioned backup and restore operation for free.

If you have further requirements, you can upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to enjoy advanced features:

Event triggers backup: Backup disk at System Shutdown, System Startup, User Logon or User Shutdown. You can also choose "USB plug-in" to backup automatically once the USB is recognized.
Automatic cleanup: Create a retention policy by quantity, by time, by frequency in "Backup Scheme" to delete old backups automatically and save your storage space.
Differential backup: Backup only changed data on the disk based on the last full backup, thus you can restore disk even if any of the intermediate backups corrupted. Check details in incremental vs differential backup.
Recovery environment: Create a boot option that allows you to one-click enter WinPE and perform backup and restore even when the system goes wrong.
Universal RestoreRestore system image to different hardware without boot errors.

Summary

In addition to Windows Backup and Restore, you can also use effective software AOMEI Backupper Standard to create free hard drive backup for Windows 10. If computer crash happens one day, you can use AOMEI Backupper doing a restoration to rescue your data with backup image files.

As a disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper can do more than backup and restore. It also has the ability to clone hard drive to SSD directly without losing data.