Windows 10 - System Image vs File History vs Backup and Restore


With the new build of Windows 10 released earlier this week, I decided to try using it as my primary OS on one of my systems at home. Previously, I had been using Windows 8.1 Pro.

My question is what is the main difference between the backup methods: System Image, File History, and Backup and Restore (Windows 7) available using the control panel?

My goal is to back up my photos, videos, music and documents once or twice a month; as well as a regular system image so that if I need to restore my system I have 3-4 images to choose from spanning the past one to two months. I don't really need to access previous versions of documents or files that may have been altered (which I believe is the purpose of File History?).

Thanks for any clarification.

Question Info

Last updated July 18, 2018 Views 30,763 Applies to:



Welcome to Microsoft Community. Your interest in Windows 10 Technical Preview is much appreciated. 


A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or computer ever stops working.

File History regularly backs up versions of your files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. Over time, you'll have a complete history of your files. If the originals are lost, damaged, or deleted, you can restore them. You can also browse and restore different versions of your files. For example, if you want to restore an older version of a file (even if it wasn't deleted or lost), you can browse through a timeline, select the version you want, and restore it.

In previous versions of Windows, you could use Backup and Restore to back up your files or create and use a system image backup or repair disc. Windows 8.1 gives you choices about how you can recover your PC and back up your personal files.

For more information about setting up Windows Backup, see

Information on System Image can be found under this article:

For File History:

Also refer:

Keep us posted if you face any issues on windows in future. We will be glad to help you.


Thanks & Regards,

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  • "Does this mean that you cannot restore programs with File History?  That is, to restore my computer to its previous state after a catastrophic windows failure I would need a system image?      

One such Solution is using RECIMG.exe  in windows 8 or 8.1 for System and program files by taking a snapshot of your current image and later refresh your system without losing your personal files, is my understanding.  To make things easier, a person can use RECIMG Manager, which is free, to record system snapshots, along with File History, thus, having personal files and system/programs saved on a second drive, not a second partition of the same drive, keep in mind for safety.

recimg.exe is used at the command line interface, but Recimg manager, gives you a GUI interface. I have used it,  and it works just perfectly fine.  

Also you can use SLIMIMAGE which uses RECIMG too. Both are at the same link.  Slim image is located on the BETA NEWS page, and the word HERE is the download link. The word BETANEWS is used  to download slimimage.  

It is a shame that MS removed RECIMG.EXE from the latter builds of Windows 10.  Come to think of it, there are a lot of shameful changes MS does to windows, and of course, that is my opinion.

SLimIMage download, Use Betanews to download

RECIMG download on CNET


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