Backup and Restore is a program that was first included in Windows Vista. It can be found in the Control Panel, or by simply searching for it on the start menu. As the name suggests, the utility allows users to create backups of their systems to a different drive (like an external hard drive or a DVD, but sadly not to tape) and restore them if ever necessary. If you have the Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7 then you also have the option of backing up to a network.
When creating a backup you have two options: let Windows decide what to back up or choose yourself. It’s up to you which you pick, but the latter will obviously give you more control over which folders, libraries and drives to include on the backup. Those with a bit of technical knowledge will probably prefer deciding what to backup themselves.
The program also lets you decide how often you want to back up and on what day and time. What you select depends on how heavy your computer use is and how important your data is, but a weekly backup is a good starting point. If you keep your computer on all the time, it’s worth choosing a time where your computer is unlikely to be being used, like early in the morning. This ensures that your normal use won’t suffer from any slowdown that might occur when the backup is taking place. If this isn’t possible, backing up towards the end of the day is suggested in order to get the most recent copies of files secured before turning the system off.
You can also create a system image (stored in the VHD file format), which include the operating system and data volumes and is an exact image of a drive, settings and all. This can be used when your computer or hard drive stops working and you cannot choose what to bring back; it is a complete restoration. It also offers the ability to restore your system image to a different machine entirely, as long as it has the same number of disks.
Restoring files is a breeze thanks to the wizard that guides you through it. You have the ability to restore everything from a single file to all those included in a backup. This is a great utility if you ever accidentally delete or change a file, or if they ever become damaged. If you don’t have a backup that contains the file then you may find success by right clicking the folder and then choosing to ‘Restore previous versions’.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft has decided to deprecate the Backup and Restore facility in their upcoming Windows 8 release as apparently it was rarely used. Although it’ll still be included, access points to the program will be limited and it won’t be updated. However, similar functionality will be found in the new File History feature. For the time being, those looking for a simple and useful backup facility will find great success with Windows’ Backup and Restore.
Windows Backup and Restore: An Introduction
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