Backing Up With Windows Vista

Backing Up With Windows Vista


By Matthew Murray Perhaps the most important of all computer functions is also the least performed: backing up. The old saying that if anything can go wrong it probably will has never been truer than it is with computers. No matter how careful you are, you could be just a power surge away from losing important documents, photos, or even your entire hard drive. Luckily, Windows Vista comes with backup functionality to help you protect individual files and folders, as well as your whole PC.
Before backing up files, you will need to be logged in as a user with administrator privileges, and you will need either a CD or DVD burner or a hard drive with free space for saving your backup files.

CREATE AN AUTOMATIC BACKUP JOB

The easiest way to back up your files is to create a backup job that Windows will run automatically on a schedule you specify, so that you never have to remember to copy files yourself. (Note: You cannot schedule automatic backups with Vista Home Basic—if you're running that version, you'll have to run them manually.) Here's how to do it.
  1. Go to Start > Control Panel
  2. Click on System and Maintenance.
  3. Under the "Backup and Restore Center" heading, click on "Back up your computer."
  4. Click "Back up files."
  5. Click on the radio button next to the type of location on which you want to back up your files, either "On a hard disk, CD, or DVD" or "On a network." If you select the former, choose the appropriate disk from the drop-down box; if the latter, click the "Browse..." button and navigate to the appropriate location on your network. Once you've chosen your location, click Next.
  6. Click the check boxes next to the types of files you wish to back up. Click Next.
  7. Click on the drop-down boxes to specify how often you wish the backup to run (daily, weekly, or monthly), on which day of the week, and on what time of day.
  8. Click "Save settings and start backup" to begin backing up immediately.

CHANGE BACKUP SETTINGS

If you decide you want to make modifications to your backup job, just return to the Backup and Restore Center and click on "Change settings" under the "Back up files" heading. This will bring up a window showing your current configuration. Click on "Change backup settings," and you'll be able to alter any or all of the backup options you selected when you created the job.

RESTORE FILES

Hopefully, you'll never need to use any of the backups you create. But if you do, here's how to restore files that have been saved.
  1. From the Backup and Restore Center, click on "Restore files."
  2. You will be presented with the ability to restore "Files from the latest backup" or "Files from an older backup." Click the radio button next to the option you want.
  3. The Restore Files window will appear. Click on "Add files..." or "Add folders..." to select specific files or folders from the backup you created. You can also click on the "Search..." button to search through the backup for files matching a certain criteria. Once you've selected your files and folders, click Next.
  4. You will be asked where you want to save the files, either "In the original location" or in a location of your choosing. To change where the restored files will be placed, click on the "Browse..." button and navigate to the location you would like them restored.
  5. Click "Start Restore" to restore the files you've selected.
  6. If you have chosen to restore files to their original location, you may be asked whether you want to replace the original files with the ones from the backup, whether you want to keep the originals instead of the backups, or whether you want to keep both. If you keep both, the restored file will have a "(2)" appended to the filename.

BACK UP YOUR ENTIRE PC

If you're using Vista Business or Ultimate, you also have the option to create a full backup of your entire PC—including the operating system, its settings, and all the software you have installed. This will require a great deal more disk space than a regular file backup, but might be just what you need to recover from a catastrophic system loss. To create a full backup:
  1. Go to Start > Control Panel.
  2. Under System and Maintenance, click "Back up your computer."
  3. Click on "Back up computer."
  4. You will be asked where you want to store the backup image you'll be creating. Unlike backing up files, you cannot save the image to a networked location, and you must save it on an optical disc or hard drive formatted with the NTFS file system. After you've made your selection, click Next.
  5. A screen will appear asking you to confirm your backup location, and informing you of the amount of space needed for the full backup. (This may require the use of many CDs or DVDs, if you're using removable media.) Click "Start backup" to begin creating the image.

RESTORE FROM A FULL PC BACKUP

To restore from a full-system backup, return to the Backup and Restore Center, click on Restore Computer, and follow the prompts. Note: This process reformats your entire hard drive and replaces its contents with the image you created; it's really best to go this route only if there's no other way to get your PC back to an optimal state.


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