In prior versions of Windows, the built-in backup facility with its image capture capability provided images accessible to a variety of recovery tools, including the “Repair your PC” option available to those who book from a WindowsPE-based install ISO or a repair disk of some kind. With the introductions of Windows 8, and more recently, Windows 8.1, I’ve come to rely on the “Record Image” (recimg) command-line utility that integrates with the “Refresh your PC” capability in those OSes as well, especially when used through SlimImage Utilities excellent RecImg Manager app. And because it will let me capture an OS image from one drive on a UEFI system and re-image it on another driver for UEFI use, I’ve also become quite fond of Paragon Software’s 4.0 version of its excellent Paragon Migrate OS to SSD utility (earlier versions can’t handle the UEFI boot manipulations that occur behind the scenes, so only this and newer versions work for Windows 8.* versions).
But it’s still a good idea to keep a plain-vanilla image file around for Windows repair and recovery utilities to use. Starting with Windows 8.1, this requires launching the File History applet in Control Panel (you can search on File History to access this tool, or navigate your way in through Control Panel). When you get there, click the entry that reads “System Image Backup” in the lower left-hand corner of the applet window:
This brings up the “Create a system image” window that requests you to specify a target where you’ll store the resulting image file:
Once you pick a destination for the image, you’ll select the items you wish to include therein (at a minimum, this must include the recovery partition, P: in this case; and the system partition from your boot/system drive, which is usually the C: drive as shown here):
Next you’ll be asked to confirm your selections:
Once confirmed by clicking the Start backup shown above, the image capture gets underway on the designated target drive:
That’s all there is to it. So you can keep using Windows-generated image files in Windows 8.1, even though you may have to unlearn a few old habits, and absorb some new ones, to make that happen!