Create your own Rescue Disk
We've recently featured back up and data recovery tools, as well as some basic things you can try when you've got a buggy system, but neglected to mention that Windows also includes its own backup and recovery tools built right into the system. Today, we're going to do a run through of creating a system image and system restore disc or drive for Windows 7 and 8.
What You'll Need
What you'll need:
Windows System Image:
- A hard drive, partition, or network location with free space greater than your boot drive's contents.
Windows 7&8 System Repair Disc:
- A blank CD/DVD and appropriate burner.
Windows 8 System Restore Drive:
- A USB drive (1GB for simple restore drive, or larger with a recovery partition).
Windows 7&8: Backup & Restore Center
Fire up the Control Panel and click on 'Back up & Restore' to take a look at your built-in Windows backup options. In Windows 8, you can access this by searching for "file recovery," going to Settings, and clicking on Windows 7 File Recovery. From here, you can create a system image backup of your Windows System, as well as create a system repair disc. The first thing you'll want to do here is to create a System Image, an exact copy of your boot drive at the moment. Click on "Create a system image."
Windows 7&8: Making A System Image (backup medium)
From here, the wizard interface will prompt you to select your backup medium, which can be a hard drive, optical disc(s), or even a network location. Select the one you want to use, and then click on next.
Windows 7&8: Making A System Image (backup specific drives)
With the backup medium selected, all that's left is to select the specific drives you want to back up. To keep things simple and space down, all you really need here is your boot drive, but the option does exist for you to add additional drives or partitions to the image you're about to create. Once you're done, click on next, review the information, and then start the imaging process. You'll want to have a coffee, snack, or something to read, as the imaging will take a while.
Windows 7: Building the System Repair Disc
With a System Image backup now in place and safe in a separate drive or disc(s), it's time to create a System Repair Disc. You can return to the Backup & Restore center in the Control panel, or simply type "system repair disc" in the Start Menu to bring up the f.
Select Drive & Burn!
Select the drive you want to use, load in the blank media, and then have a coffee, check your RSS feedsor whatever catches your fancy, while waiting for the disc to burn. In a short while, your repair disc should be ready.
Windows 7: Using your Repair Disc
The System Repair Disc can be used to boot your machine in the event that something catastrophic happens to your system settings that messes with your boot. From here, you'll have access to such tools as Startup Repair to attempt to fix your startup, System Restore to attempt to roll back changes to your system, or at the worst restore a System Image, which you hopefully have been making regular backups of.
Note: The Recovery Disc shares the "bit-ness" of the model of Windows 7 used to create it, so if you built one with the 64-bit version, you can use the Recovery Disc for other systems with Win 7 64-bit installed, but not for 32-bit versions, and vice versa for 32-bit recovery discs.
Windows 8: Building a System Restore Drive
You can still create a System Repair Disc in Windows 8 through the Windows 7 File Recovery system tool, but in addition, Windows 8 provides you with the additional option of using a USB repair disk to create a system recovery drive, much like a system repair disc. To do this, go to the Start Screen, search "Recovery," go to Settings, and select "Create a recovery drive" to bring up the Recovery Media Center.
Recovery Media Center
The Recovery Media Center window will bring up a wizard interface to help you create the drive. An important difference, besides letting you use a USB drive, is that the system restore drive creation allows you to include your machine's Recovery Partition, in the event that you don't have a Windows installation disc (for example, if Windows came preinstalled with a Recovery Partition in a laptop). You can decide whether to include the Recovery Partition here, though you will need a bigger USB drive (around 16GB+ to be safe) if you choose to do so). Click on next.
Final Warning, Copying
Plug in and select the USB drive you want to use, and then check out a final warning reminding you that the drive's contents will be wiped, so you should back up anything on it. With that done, you can proceed with creating your Recovery Drive.
The Recovery Drive can then be used to boot Windows 8 in the event of a disastrous system change that has affected your startup. The toolkit allows you to do execute the same recovery options as the Win 7 Repair Disk (through the Advanced Options menu), in addition to allowing for the option to Repair or Refresh the Windows 8 system.
Note: The Recovery Drive shares the "bit-ness" of the model of Windows 8 used to create it, so if you built one with the 64-bit version, you can use the Recovery Drive for other systems with Win 8 64-bit installed, but not for 32-bit versions, and vice versa.