Microsoft may have added a variety of tools to help users take control of Windows when things go haywire. The system image tool has been a feature of Windows for years, but Microsoft doesn’t really want you to use it.

They’ve hidden it from plain sight in Windows 8.1, but don’t worry, we’re going to show you how to access the tool and get started with it.

What Good Is the System Image Tool

The system image tool isn’t as useful as it used to be, at least in its current form. For the majority of Windows 8.1 users, you won’t use it that often. For others who’ve used it in the past and have found use in it, it’s something you want to be able to do and use at your convenience. If you’re in need of data migration or a last ditch recovery effort, a system image can be your best, complete bet for total recovery.

A system image, in essence, is a complete snapshot of your system as is. This includes programs, files, drivers and all the little things you forget about when you have to do a clean install or restore. This is a powerful way to recover your system in a total loss no matter what the reason is.  If you’re looking for the quickest way to get your computer back to a solid state, a system image becomes the best option for you.  System images aren’t for everyone though, and if you’re looking for a basic recovery option, a clean install might be the better path.

How to Find the System Image Tool

We recommend being logged in as the Administrator before creating a system image.  In some cases, it has been reported that you can actually overlook certain features being integrated into a system image if you create one from an average user account.  By logging in as an Administrator, you can rest assured that you’re getting a complete system image and not an incomplete one that won’t help you the least bit in a full recovery situation.

Head to the Start Screen and search for “File History.”


Click on “File History” when it shows up in search results.


In the bottom left-hand corner, you’ll see System Image Backup.

Click on it.


That’ll open the system image tool in Windows 8.1 for you.

You can use this guide to create a system image in Windows 8.1. The steps for Windows 8 once you get this far are the same for Windows 8.1.

The system image tool can be used for a variety of purposes. It’s one of the best ways to take a complete snapshot of your system in case of an emergency recovery situation.  If you’re looking for a way to avoid a clean install or a refresh, a system image can do just that.  However, before creating one, we recommend you getting your system into the best possible condition for best results.

This includes performing a clean install (if needed), updating all drivers, programs, and apps, along with transferring all files and folders back to your PC the way you want. Then, create a system image, and that will be the cleanest and most complete snapshot of your system.

When you come to appreciate the way a system image works, you’ll learn you can really use the tool in a tough situation. Microsoft’s hiding it within the File History tool makes sense in some ways but in others, it’s just another way to push Windows 8 users into using the OS the way they want you to use it – not the way you want to.


While Microsoft would prefer you to use other tools, the system image tool still has its uses and can come in handy. Now that you know how to find it, you’re able to create a system image and use it as necessary to avoid total loss. The system image tool has its uses, now you know how to find it.  If you’re looking for more complete options for restoring your PC after a major issue or even a way to cut the clean install time in half, a system image and the system image tool in Windows 8.1 is the way to go.

Now that you know how to use it in Windows 8.1, you’ll be on your way to recovering your system completely in no time by utilizing a system image of your ideal setup.