Windows 8 has some cool new tools for fixing your PC without having to go through all kinds of crazy boot screens and command prompts like in older versions of Windows. The two main features you may have heard of are Refresh PC and Reset PC. Refresh PC is kind of like doing a repair install of Windows, but now you just press one button instead of the long process it was in Windows XP and Windows 7. Resetting your PC is basically performing a full reinstall of the OS, again with just one click of a button.
In addition to those options, there is also another very easy recovery option that is better than refresh and reset, in my opinion. You can create an image backup of your Windows 8 PC with all your settings, data, and apps the way you want them to be restored. The only downside to Refresh PC is that it will preserve your data and Metro apps, but it will remove any desktop apps that you install. With an image, you can configure Windows 8 with all the Metro and desktop apps you want, plus any other settings and then create the image.
What’s really nice is that when you go to refresh your PC again after creating the image, it will refresh the PC from the image backup automatically! And again, the Refresh PC and Reset PC options are available through Windows and they are also available in Windows RE, which is the Windows Recovery Environment that you can load in case Windows 8 won’t boot up.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps to create a image backup of Windows 8 and also show you how easy it is to restore the entire image. So now when your computer is infected with malware and viruses your kids downloaded onto your computer, you can restore it to it’s original state with ease.
Create Windows 8 Backup Image
To get started, you need to open an elevated command prompt in Windows 8. To do this, go to the start screen and right-click anywhere to see All apps.
Next, right-click on the the Command Prompt and you’ll see a couple of options show up on the bottom. Go ahead and click on Run as Administrator.
Now at the command prompt, you have to type two simple commands. One to create the folder that will hold the image and one to actually create the image.
recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage
The process to create the image takes about 10 to 15 minutes and could take longer depending on the amount of data you have on your system. Overall, though, the process is fairly fast for a backup image.
It will first initialize, then create the snapshot, then write the image and then register the image so that it is used automatically when you refresh the PC. That’s it! You now have a complete backup image of your Windows 8 machine. If you go to the directory you created, you’ll see a .WIM file there, which is a Windows Image file.
I suggest copying this backup file to an external drive also, just so you have a backup of the file in case the entire hard drive crashes with some kind of hardware error. In that type of case, no recovery option will help if the hard drive is physically damaged. You’ll have to get another hard drive and then restore the image using the Windows Recovery Environment. Anyway, assuming your hard drive is OK and something went wrong with Windows, you can restore the image by going to Refresh PC.
Open the Charms bar and then click on Settings and then click on Change PC Settings.
Click on General and then click on Get Started under Refresh Your PC.
You’ll see a dialog pop up telling you what will happen in the process and then click Next. Refreshing the PC from an image will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, possibly longer depending on your hardware specs and the size of the image.
Once the refresh is done, you can login and you’ll be good to go with all your settings and apps! Pretty sweet eh! You can also update the image at any time by simply creating another one using the commands above and the latest image will be set as the currently registered image for the PC refresh to use. Enjoy!