Windows 10 system image backup - opinions?


Dec 23, 2006
I have four older PCs we're not using much these days and I want to archive drive images to storage before wiping them and storing them. (Think ~Surface Pro 2 type PCs.) I see Windows 10 has a system image backup feature but haven't used it much. My primary use case would be ease of (a) opening the image on another PC to navigate the file system and copy off files and (b) restoring the image either to its original target HW or some other system. In the past, uncertainty about how to do both has generally led me to (a) make a system image and (b) do a bulk copy of all files so I have a logical copy as well. The problem with (b) as it pertains to Windows are always the myriad of gotchas with permissions etc. that leave me uncertain that I copied everything... particularly on a family PC that everyone touched at some point.

Any ideas as to how one might logically open a WIndows 10 system image on another PC to extract data? Or general comments on how you handle archival of old PCs with the least fuss?

Red Falcon

[H]F Junkie
May 7, 2007
Clonezilla is a great solution that works really well for exactly what you want to do, is free, and the images can even optionally be encrypted.
Once you have made the backup image of the disk, you can then restore it to any other disk (equal or greater than in storage capacity) at a later time, then either boot that disk or add it as a second disk to read the contents of it.


Apr 28, 2007
I use Macrium Reflect free version, works great every time.
Allows viewing of images and extracting data.
The only slight downside is they could have used better compression (ie make the image sizes a little smaller).


[H]F Junkie
Nov 19, 2008
I like AOMEI for windows backups and recovery using a bootable ISO and recovering over a network or USB drive. I use it for a few dozen machines which I have the backup files on a network share that I upload to an "unlimited" cloud drive. Although if you just want to image the entire disk Clonezilla is also good option.


Dec 5, 2010
I also use Aomei. Main advantage is that you can create a bootable USB stick within Aomei (WinPE or Linux) that allows a fast recovery to a new disk with image on a network share or usb disk. Quite similar to Clonezilla but you can create the image from Windows and save/restore is much faster.


Fully [H]
Jul 30, 2004
I'm another long-time Reflect user. I do image back-ups every 10-15 days and have restored dozens of 'em sans any issues. A full 2TB back-up to a spinning disk takes around 2 hours and restoring it takes about the same. The interface is easy and everything has been trouble-free.