How to find the system image tool in Windows 8.1

The system image tool in Windows is one way to back up your system, but if you upgraded to Windows 8.1, it's not where you last saw it.

Windows 8.1 Start screen
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

The system image tool in Windows might not be the tool that Microsoft prefers you use for backups, but it's still a good tool for migrations and disaster recovery. As CNET's Rick Broida found out painfully , Windows will behave unexpectedly every now and then, particularly after OS upgrades. This is where having a system image can be a big help.

We previously went over how to create a system image in Windows 8 . However, if you upgraded to Windows 8.1 -- surprise! -- the tool isn't where it used to be. If you want to use the system image tool in Windows 8.1, here's how to find it:

Step 1: From the Windows 8.1 Start screen, search for and select "File History." You can also access it through the Control Panel by going to System and Security > File History.

Windows 8.1 file history search
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Step 2: Select "System Image Backup" from the lower left-hand corner of the window.

Windows 8.1 system image backup
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

The system image tool works the same in Windows 8.1 as it did in Windows 8, so just select where you want to save the backup, then click "Start backup."

If and when you need to use the system image, go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Update and recovery > Recovery, then select the "Restart now" button under Advanced Startup. When it boots up to the menu, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System image recovery. You can also use a Windows 8 USB flash recovery drive , if you're unable into boot to Windows.

Tech Culture
Read the full CNET Review

Microsoft Windows 8.1

The Bottom Line: If you're a dedicated Windows 8 hater, the update to Windows 8.1 isn't going to change your mind. For everyone else, this collection of tweaks, fixes, and new features is useful, but everything here should have shipped in the original version last year. / Read full review

About the author

Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at



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