1) Attach an external USB hard drive to your computer.
2) Bring up Windows Explorer.
3) Copy and the paste the following into the Windows Explorer address bar and Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsWindows 7 File Recovery
4) Then click ‘Create a system image’ at the top left corner. You may have to type in admin’s password.
5) It will then search for an external device to back your hard drive up to.
6) Select the external USB hard drive you attached in Step 1 in the dropdown box (If not already selected) and click ‘Next’.
Note: It will state at the top of this form how much disk space it will need. Needed space may indicate a size smaller than the max size of the hard drive you are attempting to back up. Let’s say your hard drive is 500 gigs and the space needed is 80 gigs to backup. Even though only 80 gigs is to be backed up, the process will fail if you don’t have an external USB hard drive that has at least 320 gig free space (Based on a 500 gig hard drive).
7) Confirm your settings by clicking ‘Start backup’.
8) When the backup is done, click ‘No’ to creating a system repair disk.
Note: Windows 8 will only use a bootable system repair usb drive. This is needed to boot your system to when you have a new blank hard drive to restore. You need to purchase at least a 16 gig thumb drive that is used exclusively for this purpose and follow the process here to create it. This only has to be done ONCE.
1) Type this in Windows Explorer ‘Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsRecovery’
2) Click ‘Create a recovery drive’ at the top of the form.
3) Follow the instructions to create the bootable drive.
4) When done, store in a safe place.
9) Unattach the external USB hard drive.
Note: A folder called WindowsImageBackup along with numerous backup files inside it has now been created to the external USB hard drive. If your hard drive every completely fails and you have to buy a new blank hard drive, you can then use the bootable thumb drive (mentioned in step 8 above) to restore the backup image you just created to the new hard drive. When done, restart the computer and it should be back to where it was the last time you created the system image. If restoring to a hard drive that is not new, you can get to these same utilities that are stored onto your bootable thumb drive by holding down the shift key when clicking Restart available from any Power icon. When the computer restarts, click Troubleshoot, Advanced Tools, then System Image Recovery.