Backup-system backup question from a Win8.1 rookie

I would like to do a complete system backup including the OS system since I have all my programs installed and working the way I like them. Looking around there is the Dell backup/restore, Win 8.1 in control panel under file history, and the provided software on my new Seagate external 3 TB-HD. Could someone explain the + and - of each?


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I would first suggest you complete the Dell process for creating any backup media they make available. This type of backup will normally be used to repair your system or set it back to the factory condition.

Then you would make a system image of your working system so you could re-image a corrupted or broken system back to what it was when the image was made. The built-in utility will do system image backups, but alone it will not normally back up any Recovery partitions that contain a factory image. Since such a partition is not necessary for the normal operation of the system, if you have the image stored somewhere, it may not be a problem for you.

If you wanted to create a Windows Image backup of your entire drive, you could use another utility called wbadmin.exe which would allow the backup of the critical partitions on the drive plus extra ones if you wanted.

Some folks recommend using third party imaging software which is more configurable for how the image is restored.

I have never used the software that came with my 2 TB Backup Plus so I cannot advise on that.

What Dell model did you get?

I have 2 Dells in the house, XPS-8500( 1yr old) and dell inspiron 600 which I just purchased a few weeks ago for the wife. So after running the Dell backup for both I can then us a 3rd party such as the Seagate HD provided or Roxio suite I have installed on both. I'm I thinking correct? I had a HD crash a few years back and it was a PIA to reinstall everything back to the wife's liking.

Joe S

Excellent Member
I think you are looking to make a system image. I use Acronis True Image it is try and buy. Paragon, EaseUS and Macrium all have free versions. These allow you to make a boot disk to reinstall or make the image without having the system actually running. That way there is no problems from automatic updates orAV scanning.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Again, I have no experience with the Seagate software. But if you have the Dell recovery media, you should always be able to get back to a factory fresh system.

One problem with creating backup images is most of the time you don't know for sure they will work until you actually have to use one. I reimage my systems fairly often, especially the Windows 8 Test system. Therefore I have seen some of the problems and types of errors that can be encountered. Having some experience in recovering an image would be very helpful in the event it is actually needed. But it does take some additional resources to get any practice.

I have always used the Windows Image Backup utility and it has served me well, but others prefer third party solutions.

Whats the difference of creating an ISO image vs creating a bootable DVD, USB drive, etc? I'm looking at Acronis presently.

Joe S

Excellent Member
An ISO image is what you would download and burn to a DVD or USB stick. An ISO is not the complete copy of your disk. I also began partitioning my disk with the OS and software on one and data on the other. With the Acronis and similar disks you burn you boot from that and it creates a ramdisk and runs the backup program for backups and restoring the image. I have restored the system in about 15 min using Acronis. Acronis also has a very good forum if you have problems. I have their software engineers post fixes to problems there.


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

There is a utility in Windows 8 for creating a Disk Image.

It's hidden in the Control Panel and it's called Windows 7 File Recovery for some unknown reason, but it will create a disk image and make a bootable repair disk.

Don't back it up to your C:\ drive, it has to be on a separate partition or drive, or a set of disks (not practical if you have 500 Gigabytes of stuff to back up).

If you don't have a second internal hard drive or partition I'd advise getting an external USB hard drive.
Also back up any data you really don't want to lose, like photos and music to it, in uncompressed format, (just copy the files to the drive) they will be there even if you back up get corrupted.

Personally I use Paragon Backup and Recovery, it's free and it's saved me several times.


My backup tool Aomei Backupper. a freeware. You can also try it.

This website is not affiliated, owned, or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Program.