I have a Windows 7 computer that I want to re-format. This computer became increasingly used for a specific client. Because of this, a lot of customizations were added that I would not like to lose in the event the client needs me down the road. In hind-sight, I would have like to have created a Virtual PC image first. But, it just became one more thing after another over time.

Regardless, I would like to backup the whole thing (operating system, database, etc). The reason why is I may need to restore this "computer" somewhere down the road. Is it possible for me to backup the whole thing to a USB drive and somehow restore it later? If so, how?

Thank you


Look in to creating a disk image using a program called Clonezilla. It's a Live Linux CD, and it is free. It provides a GUI and is relatively easy to use.

You can make an image of your entire hard drive, save it to a USB drive, and at a later date restore the entire image.

Some caveats of this are that it most likely will not work on any other computer, since it copies EVERYTHING and significant hardware differences probably won't be taken nicely. Other than that, if you restore the image it will overwrite the whole drive, so anything saved on it will need to be saved elsewhere before restoring the disk image.

I used Clonezilla to roll out a disk image from one computer to 50 others, all with identical hardware, and it worked beautifully.

  • What is the image format? Is it possible to run created image on VMWare PLayer? Can I save a image of one partition to another since I do not have enough space on my pendrive? – kokbira Jul 22 '10 at 17:45
  • No way to run it in VMWare Player that I know of, although I'm not 100% sure of the image format. It saves them as .img files. You can choose the image saving options, whether to save an entire disk or just a partition, and the same options for where to restore the image. If anything, it is worth trying out. – Mistiry Jul 26 '10 at 13:47
  • It should be pretty simple to restore the .img to a disk or USB drive and then configure VirtualPC to use it as a boot device. – Aaron Digulla Aug 2 '10 at 7:35

A paid solution would be Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 2010 Desktop Edition. It will backup the system while running and even restore to different hardware easily. It can also convert the backup to a VMware or Windows virtual machine. There is a Free 60 day Trial


Search for Backup in the Start Menu to see if your Windows version has Backup capabilities, if so, then you can use it to make backup to your external drive and restore it later.

An alternative is to use Disk2VHD and then add the VHD to your boot menu,
this would be ideal as you won't have to overwrite your new install when you need the old Windows.


You can backup the image of your partitions to a USB drive or DVD and restore it later. There are commercial tools like Acronis True Image, Nortan Ghost or Nero BackitUp & Free tools like Clonezilla, PartImage(I got this one always on my pendrive) etc.

And restoring this image to a system of different hardware config could render the system unstable due to driver issues.

There is a list of free tools at http://www.thefreecountry.com/utilities/backupandimage.shtml


You can just replace the internal hard disk by a new one and store it somewhere safe.

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