Your initial backup of your computer should be a full backup or a system image. Note that a system image is a backup of your operating system (as configured), your programs, and all data contained on your hard drive. A system image is all-inclusive.
After you create a system image, you can restore the image to a new hard drive in the event of a catastrophic failure, and you can continue working where you left off (as of the date of the backup) as though nothing happened.
However, if you only backup data, you would have to reinstall your operating system, device drivers and programs on a new hard drive before you can resume working.
Follow these steps to create a system image in Windows 7:
1. Go to the “Control Panel”
2. Select “System and Security”
3. Now select “Backup and Restore”
4. Connect an external hard drive
5. Select “Create a system image”
When prompted to “Create a system repair disc,” insert a blank DVD. Note that you only need to complete this step for your first and second images. I like to have a backup system repair disc.
Important: Never store your backups in the same location as your computer.