If you are using Windows 8 (and Windows 7 as well), they have included this feature as System Image which seems promising. But personally, I wouldn't rely on it that much. Because if Windows it self crashes, then it won't be able to restore it self back! Especially in the event of hard drive crash then everything will be lost. Therefore I recommend to accompany this Windows tool with a full disk image tool of your choice.
From Microsoft Site:
A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image
includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes
Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a
system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard
disk or computer ever stops working.
Check out this for Windows 7, this and this for Windows 8.
Now, as for a third party software, one good tool is:
the AOMEI Backupper Recovery Tool, I've been using it to create system image for a while now (made a quick test to restore my
C: drive and the drive was back and the extra added files were gone as expected) and I'm impressed with it's ease of use and good speed.
- It's free
- Can make bootable disks in case Windows is not starting,
- Supports incremental and differential backups to save imaging space and time.
- Disk cloning, system backup to image OS, files backup.
- System image mounting to explore files.
- Very appealing and easy to use interface.
Here, read this review about AOMEI Backupper. It kinda reminded me of Norton Ghost which saved my OS a couple of times, however, now it has been discontinued since Norton decided to replace it with SSR