After you set up your Windows 8.1 system the way you like it, it’s important to create a system image. A system image is essentially a clone of the hard drive on your system. All of your settings, apps, and data will be dutifully backed up for you if disaster strikes (or if you want to do a fresh install of the OS).
Create a Windows 8.1 system image
Creating a system image has been part of Windows since Vista, and it’s still available in the latest Windows version. There’re a couple of ways to get to it. The first option is to open the desktop version of Control Panel and select File History.
Alternately, use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + W to bring up Settings search and type: file history and select it under the results.
Either way you get there, File History opens. Click the System Image Backup link in the left pane.
Next, select the location where you want to store the backup image. You can use an external drive, optical disc, or a network location.
After selecting the location to store the image, select the drives and/or partitions you want to include.
Make sure to verify everything looks good before you start the backup of the system image.
The image will be created and you can monitor its progress. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on the size of the image and where you’re storing it.
I recommend creating a system image after you do a clean installation of Windows or have your system set up with the programs, files, and settings that you prefer. Then you can revert back to the system image if your drive fails or the system becomes unstable and needs a reinstall.
Windows 8 includes new features called PC Reset or PC Refresh that allows you to recover your system if things go awry. But you might prefer to have an image backed up in case neither of those features work.
Also, while you’re at it, I recommend creating a USB recovery drive. That will allow you to boot from the USB drive to advanced options and restore to the system image you created.