How to make a Full System Backup in Windows

Keeping backup copies of your files and important documents is essential for ensuring that you don’t lose them if your hard drive fails or becomes inaccessible for any reason. However, doing backup of only the important files means that you won’t get back the rest of the files and folders on your system if something happens to your hard drive. These files and folders which haven’t been backed up would be lost forever and you will have to recreate them all over again. One method that can be used to solve this issue is to make a full system backup. Such a backup will create backup copies of all the files and folders on your system, ensuring that you can restore all of it back in case of hard drive failure.

Part 1: What is Full System Backup?

Full system backup is the name given to a type of backup in which every file and folder present on the system gets backed up, leaving out nothing. This backup takes a great deal of time to complete and also occupies a considerable space on your backup storage device. Each time a full backup is made, all of the files get backed up again even if they haven’t been changed since the last backup. The good thing is that the backup copies of all the files and folders will be kept in a single file. So, restoring them would be a fairly simple task. Moreover, the full system backup ensures that none of the files is lost if the hard drive dies. This type of backup is usually done once a week and is paired up with incremental or differential backups.

Part 2: How to make a full System Backup in Windows

Windows offers a ‘Backup and Restore’ utility which can be used for making a full system backup with considerable ease. The following are the steps that need to be performed in order to make a full backup of the system in Windows.

Step 1: Right-click on any local drive and then click the Properties option in the menu that appears. When the Properties window opens, select the tab labeled Tools and then click the Backup Now button.

full system backup in Windows

Step 2: Initiate the backup process by clicking the ‘Set up backup’ link in the Backup and Restore window.

full system backup in Windows-2

Step 3: Choosing the network location or drive for storing the backup file is the next step. You can choose to either let Windows decide which drive to store the backup in or select the location yourself. Do remember that choosing a network location for backup storage requires a password.

full system backup in Windows

Step 4: Selecting the files and folders which are to be backed up is the next step. You are provided two options here, ‘Let Windows choose’ and ‘Let me choose’. Since you want to make a full system backup, you need to select the ‘Let me choose’ option.

full system backup in Windows

Step 5: Select all of the folders and files on the system in the window that appears next. Do remember to tick the box present in front of the ‘Include a system image of local drive’ option.

full system backup in Windows

Step 6: In the next step Windows will ask you to take a look at the backup settings. You need to make sure that all of the files on the system have been included in the backup before running the backup.

full system backup in Windows

Step 7: Before running the full backup, assign a schedule for it so that future backups can be automatically created at your desired time and day on a routine basis.

full system backup in Windows

Step 8: Click the button labeled ‘Save settings and run backup’ to kick off the backup process. You can see the backup progress in the Backup and Restore panel.

full system backup in Windows

Step 9: Click the ‘View Details’ button located right next to the progress bar to see which of the files are being backed up at that particular moment.

full system backup in Windows

Step 10: Full system backup can take a great deal of time to complete. Once the backup is done, the backup file will appear in the backup storage location of your choice.

full system backup in Windows

Part 3: What are Advantages and Disadvantages of Full Backup?

A full backup of the system can prove to be quite beneficial for you especially if you don’t like reinstalling everything when you have to replace a dead hard drive. The other advantages that can be availed using this type of backup are:

While the full system backup seems to have a lot of benefits to offer to the users, it also has certain downsides as well. The following are some of the disadvantages of making a full backup.

Making a full system backup can ensure restoration of all the files on the system in the event of a hard drive failure. However, do keep in mind that even though such backups are easier to manage and restore, they take up a great deal of backup storage space and require a lot of time to complete. So, while backing up data is very important, it is also necessary that you keep in mind the backup storage space available as well as the time factor. But, not backing up your data is highly likely to result in its loss if your hard drive gets infected by a virus or fails altogether because of a hardware issue.

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