I had been doing regular backups to a 0.5 TB HDD, using Windows 7 scheduled backups. I "let Windows decide what to back up". That was probably a mistake. Had I chosen the custom backup, I could have selected "include a system image" with the scheduled backup. Then, I could have restored my system to a new drive from the system image. Bam! Just like that.
Instead, I had to re-install Windows, locate OEM drivers for the devices that Windows setup seemed to have no clue about, and that I could not get via online updates, since the NIC was one of the things Windows didn't recognize. I don't think I ever had an OEM driver DVD. I don't remember having to deal with that on the initial setup, but I digress. Anyway, the incremental backups that I did have were incomplete, and the entire feature seems to provide capabilities I never cared about (the ability to revert to an earlier version of a file that I created, and then edited). So it was a major headache that I thought I had taken precautions to avoid.
Okay, so Windows 7 has the backup capability I need: scheduled system image backups. So what's the problem? The problem is, this capability has been removed from Windows 8.1, and evidently, Windows 10, in favor of "file history", which I already pointed out, isn't what I need. Automated insurance against hardware disasters is what I really need.
Something that would be even better is an automatic system image backup that would start when I plug in a designated backup drive on a USB port, replacing the existing image, if any. A removable USB drive makes sense, because I want to keep backup drives offsite, and not connected full-time to a computer. (The reason for not keeping it connected full time is to help avoid attacks such as CryptoLocker.)
Maybe there's a market for what I'm selling here.