How To Create System Backup Image In Windows 8.1

System Image is one of the features first introduced with Windows Vista to help users easily create backup image of drives without the help of third-party tools. In simple words, a system backup image includes all drives and files required for Windows to boot and run.

Generally, Windows users create a system backup image after installing all device drivers, favourite software and optimizing Windows. The backup file can be used if the hard drive ever fails or if you ever want to quickly reinstall Windows without having to go through the tedious reinstallation procedure.

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture

When you restore Windows using a previously created backup image, you won’t need to install all device drives and software all over again if the image backup was prepared after installing device drivers and software.

System Backup Image is present in Windows 7 as well as in Windows 8. For some reason, Microsoft has dropped System Image feature from Windows 8.1 update. Even though there are plenty of good tools out there to create and restore system backup image, some users might just prefer to have this native tool to create image backup.

Luckily, Microsoft has only removed the UI version Backup Image from Windows 8.1 and one can create image backup from Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell.

Follow the given below instructions to create system image in Windows 8.1 without using third-party tools:

Step 1: Connect your USB drive to your Windows 8.1 PC and make sure that it has sufficient free space on it. The free space on your external drive must be more than the data on your Windows 8.1 drive.

Note that if you’ve installed Windows 8.1 in dual boot Windows 8 or any other version, the image backup tool might include more than one drive in the backup and will take more space.

Step 2: Open Command Prompt as administrator on your Windows 8.1 machine. To do this, there are a couple of ways. You can either type CMD on Start screen and simultaneously press Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys to open elevated Command Prompt or right-click on the Start button and then click PowerShell (Admin) to open Windows PowerShell with admin rights. Click on the Yes button when you see the UAC prompt.

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Step 3: In the elevated Command Prompt or PowerShell, type the following command and press enter key:

wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:H: -include:C: -allCritical –quiet

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture1

(In the above command, replace “H” with your USB drive and replace “C” with your Windows 8.1 installation drive)

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 Picture2

NOTE: As you can see the in the above picture, the tool is backing up both C and D drives as I have installed Windows 8.1 (drive C) in dual boot with Windows 8(drive D).

Step 4: Depending on the number of drives, total data, and your system hardware, the process might take hours to complete. Once done, you’ll see “The backup operation successfully completed” message. Safely remove the external hardware and store it in a safe location. That’s it!

Create System Image Backup in Windows 8.1

And if you are search for a good third-party tool to create image backup, we recommend Macrium Reflect Free edition.



  1. Don says

    On my Toshiba laptop, I ALWAYS get the “not enough space” message. I have attached some VERY large USB drives, and still I get the same message. I have reformatted the drives to NTFS, and allocated four and five times the necessary Gb for storage, and there’s “not enough space” to perform an Image Backup.


  2. Stu says

    Installation of Mirror Image…Is this done the same as Windows 7?(disc in drive and boot: tapping “esc”)
    If so… and you may have a tablet(Surface) or as is the case these days where there is no DVD drive on laptops…can you copy and paste the data from the recovery disc created from another 8.1 computer with a CD/DVD drive to a USB drive?

  3. André says

    System image backup is still available on my Surface running 8.1 however its not obvious. Go to control panel > file history > bottom left hand corner > system image backup

  4. abbas says

    my win is 8.1 . i had problem in my startup windows.
    i done refresh and my apps and programs removed last night . i can,t recovery whit system image files or … .
    please help me for recovery my programs..
    thank you.

  5. JESS says

    its true that windows 8.1 no longer seems to have the capability to create an image in the “normal” way. I tried to do so by following the above (maybe long winded0 way, but this didn’t work. Now have tried stuart,s (above) way,, hey presto, seems to work fine. Thanks stuart. Much appreciated.

  6. Grant says

    Tried the instructions, and I keep getting the description of each sub command, but can’t get backup to run. When I tried Image create in File history, I got an error message shortly after image create started, that I didn’t have enough free space left on my backup drive (163Gb free)

  7. stuart says

    Go to “control panel”, select “file History”
    The option to create a System Image Backup is in the bottom left hand corner of thie window.

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