Windows Image Backup in Windows 8 and 8.1

Microsoft, having with Windows 7 finally provided a decent integrated image-based backup and restore system, decided in Windows 8 to essentially deprecate it in favour of File History (for restoring older versions of deleted/broken files) and a new trinity of system restore esque features: Restore, Refresh and Reset. More on those in a later post; for the moment I’m trying to set up image backups of half a dozen tablets about to go out to a client. They’ve already been customized for 6 different users, so I’d like to be able to keep images of all 6 on a USB drive so that if any of them need to send a tablet away for repair I can easily provision a stock unit.

There’s a few ways to get to the Image Backup application; the one I’m seeing described involves opening the “File History” screen (Start –> Type in “File History”), then click the “File History Settings” link, then the “System Image Backup” link in the bottom left. That’s a bit convoluted for me, so after following those steps, I opened Task Manager and found the Image Backup application:

The right-clicked on it and selected “Properties” to find out the actual application that runs the backups:

Turns out the Windows Image Backup program is actually sdclt.exe, in the System32 folder. What does sdclt stand for, I hear you ask? Not a clue, I’m afraid.
So here’s my condensed instructions for accessing Windows Image Backup in Windows 8/8.1:

  • Open the start menu (or start screen)
  • Type “sdclt”
  • Press control+shift+return to run as administrator.

It’s that easy!

We can now create windows image backups to a USB or network drive.

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