Create a Backup in Windows 10

Edited by Jay

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Backing up your PC is something all users should get in the habit of doing. Although computer hardware is improving year-by-year, you never know when a disk drive could crap out or call it quits. When something goes awry, it's nice to have a safeguard in place to minimize the damage. Creating regular backups in Windows 10 is one way to ensure you never lose all of your important files and folders. Windows 10 gives users the option to back everything up on a schedule, and as long as the PC is on and has drive space, you can create backups automatically.

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Another way to back everything up in windows 10 is by creating a system image. The difference between a system image and a standard back up is as follows:

  • A backup will create another copy of all your files and folders; images, videos, documents, and any other type of file you have saved on your local drives. Standard backups typically take up less space than a system image and also take less time to create.
  • A system image also creates another copy of your files and folders, with the addition of all your system and OS files. A system image is a working duplicate of your entire OS, which includes programs and settings. They tend to be more significant in size and also take longer to create. In the event your PC won't boot correctly, a system image can be used to get your machine functioning again.

So as long as you have a way to read your files, a regular backup is fine. If you create and edit files reasonably often, it might be a good idea to run a backup once or twice a week. A system image, on the other hand, can be created less frequently, especially if you have a backup schedule in place. A system image can be made anytime you make any notable changes to your entire system, such as installing new programs or performing significant system tweaks.

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In the following tutorial, we'll go through the steps in creating a backup, a system image, and a USB recovery drive. For this article, we used a Sager laptop running Windows 10 Professional.

Create a Windows 10 Backup

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Please note that to create a backup, you'll need administrator privileges on your account.

  1. 1
    On your keyboard, press the Windows key + X at the same time.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-01.png
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  2. 2
    When the Quick Link menu pops-up, click "Settings".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-02.png
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  3. 3
    On the main Settings window, click "Update & Security".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-03.png
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  4. 4
    From the Update & Security window, click "Backup" in the left pane.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-04.png
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  5. 5
    Next, click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-05.png
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  6. 6
    If this is your first time creating a backup, click the "Set up backup" link on the far right side.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-06.png
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  7. 7
    In the following window, choose the drive you wish to save your backup to. This can be an internal or portable hard disk, but not a USB flash drive.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-07.png
    When you selected the Backup destination, click "Next".
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  8. 8
    Next, we need to select what you want to be backed up. By default, "Let Windows choose (Recommended)" is selected, but you can also select "Let me choose".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-08.png
    Once you've made a selection, click "Next".
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  9. 9
    On the following window you can schedule when you want your PC to perform a backup. Choosing a regular schedule will ensure that your files and folders will be backed up regularly.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-09.png
    When you've set a schedule, click "OK".
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  10. 10
    Next, it's time to review your backup settings. If everything looks fine, click "Save settings and run backup".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-10.png
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  11. 11
    Once your PC begins backing up your files, you'll see a green progress bar. If you want to see the exact percentage and additional info, click "View Details".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-11.png
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  12. 12
    In the progress window, you can see what files are being backed up, as well as click to view the backup settings you just created.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-12.png
    Click the X in the upper right corner to go back to the Backup and Restore window.
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  13. 13
    Once the backup has completed, you'll notice the time next to "Last backup:"
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-13.png
    You can also edit your backup settings and schedule from the main Backup and Restore (Windows 7) window.
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Delete Windows 10 Backup

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If you've set scheduled backups, you may want to delete some older ones to clear up some space on your drive.

  1. 1
    Press the Windows key + X simultaneously on your keyboard.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-01.png
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  2. 2
    From the Quick Link menu, click "Settings".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-02.png
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  3. 3
    When the main Settings window opens, click "Update & Security".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-03.png
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  4. 4
    From Update & Security, click "Backup".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-04.png
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  5. 5
    Under the Backup section, click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-05.png
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  6. 6
    On the Backup and Restore window, click "Manage space".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-19.png
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  7. 7
    Next, under Data backup file, click "View backups...".
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  8. 8
    On the following window, select the backup period(s) you wish to delete, then click "Delete".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-21.png
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  9. 9
    In our example, we've selected to delete the only existing backup. If you see the same window, you can click either; "Delete", or "Delete and run backup now".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-22.png
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  10. 10
    Once the backup is fully deleted, click "Close".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-23.png
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Create Windows 10 System Image

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Creating a system image will give you an exact copy of your entire system, which in the event of something significant going wrong, will help you restore your PC with minimal loss.

  1. 1
    Using your keyboard, press the Windows key + X.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-01.png
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  • 2
    Once the Quick Link menu appears, click "Settings".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-02.png
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  • 3
    From Settings, click "Update & Security".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-03.png
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  • 4
    On the Update & Security window, click "Backup".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-04.png
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  • 5
    In the Backup section, click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-05.png
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  • 6
    On the Backup and Restore window, click "Create a system image".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-29.png
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  • 7
    Next, select the location to save your system image. You can save it to; a hard disk, one or more DVDs, or a network location.
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-30.png
    Once you selected the destination, click "Next".
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  • 8
    In the following window, confirm your system image settings. If everything looks good, click "Start backup".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-31.png
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  • 9
    You may be prompted with a window asking if you want to create a "System repair disk". If you don't already have a repair disk, it may be a good idea to create one.
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    We'll show how to make a repair drive (USB drive) in the last section of this guide.
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  • 10
    Once the system image has been created, click "Close".
    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-33.png
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  • Delete a Windows 10 System Image

    NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-00-delete-image.png

    If you want to free up space on your backup drive, you can delete system images as well.

    1. 1
      On your keyboard, press the Windows key + X.
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-01.png
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    2. 2
      With the Quick Link menu open, click "Settings".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-02.png
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    3. 3
      From the Settings window, click "Update & Security".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-03.png
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    4. 4
      Once in Update & Security, click "Backup".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-04.png
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    5. 5
      From Backup, click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-05.png
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    6. 6
      On the Backup and Restore window, click "Manage space".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-39.png
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    7. 7
      Under System image", click "Change settings...".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-40.png
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    8. 8
      Next, select how Windows retains older system images. If you have multiple images stored on your drive, you can choose to keep the most recent system image.
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-41.png
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    Create Windows 10 Recovery Drive (USB)

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    A Windows Recovery drive can help you restore your PC or troubleshoot problems if something happens and you can't get your system to boot correctly.

    1. 1
      From the search box, type "create a recovery drive". When the results populate, click the first option (control panel) at the top.
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-42.png
      Connect a USB flash drive that has at least 16 GB storage capacity.
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    2. 2
      When the UAC window appears, click "Yes".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-43.png
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    3. 3
      In the Recovery Drive window, select "Back up system files to the recovery drive", then click "Next".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-44.png
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    4. 4
      Next, select the USB drive that you connected in the previous step, then click "Next".
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-45.png
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    5. 5
      Finally, a warning will appear informing you that all the data on your USB drive will be erased. Click "Create" to continue.
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-46.png
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    6. 6
      Your PC will now begin to create your recovery drive. This process will take some time, so please be patient.
      NorthernTouch backup-windows-10-47.png
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    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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