Tech Tip #86: Image Your Computer Often

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Image Your Computer Often

Category: Maintenance, PCs, Chromebooks, Macs

Q: I hate reformatting. I lose the personalizations I added and the extra programs. Is there any way to make that process easier?

A: Yes. Create an image–a picture of your hard drive including system files, drivers, software and program updates, software and downloaded programs, docs, files, and extras—and save it in a secure backup area. When you reformat, copy the image back to the computer. Mine is on a terabyte external drive. Even if my two internal drives explode, I’m good.

Here’s how to do this if you have a PC:

  • Click the start button. Go to Control Panel. Select ‘Backup and Restore’
  • On the left sidebar, select the option ‘create a system image’. Follow directions.

Mac owners: Use a cloud-based third-party service (like Carbonite).

Chromebook folks: Because no data or programs are stored to the device, rather than re-image, try a power wash to reset everything to factory settings. You’ll lose shortkeys and programs installed to the shelf, but that’s it. If that doesn’t work, there are more involved steps (still not too difficult, though) to re-image using third-party utilities.

Alternatively, you can use a cloud-based service like Carbonite. Be forewarned: If you have a lot of data, it takes a while. You can work on your computer while it’s backing up; it’ll just be slower.

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What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

5 thoughts on “Tech Tip #86: Image Your Computer Often

    1. The mirror image reproduces everything on your computer to a new location. So, if your hard drive crashed, you would load the mirror image onto a new hard drive and be back up and running. Doc files in Dropbox need the program to run. Of course, if the program is web-based (like Google Apps), that works fine.

      1. Sounds like I’d better invest in a hard drive. I’ve done that a few times over the years but have never thought it satisfactory as I’m constantly writing new stuff. How often do you do that?

        1. Mine is automatically backed up once a month. I use a program called Acronis. If you don’t change much on your computer except docs (which you save backups to on Dropbox), once every few months is fine. You want it often enough to backup security updates and privacy stuff.

          1. Thanks, Jacqui. It’s good to know about these things. Whether I make the effort or not … The trouble is, most of us leave it until it’s too late and we learn the hard way.

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