The Microsoft Windows backup utility won’t prevent disaster from striking, but it can sure help you recover.
Nothing is more important than backing up your valuable Microsoft Word documents. This Windows tutorial shows you how.
To be effective, always save computer backups to an alternate location, not on your computer.
Storing backups offsite is the safest way to protect your files. Online data backup services, such as Carbonite or Mozy, are available for a low monthly fee.
If you don’t like paying for a subscription, purchase a removable hard drive. You can find good deals on removable drives online, at Best Buy or Office Depot, or warehouse clubs.
Computer backup basics
Most PC backup software allows you to perform the following types of backups:
- Full: a backup of all files on the hard disk. Incremental and differential are based on the full backup.
- Incremental: these contain only the information that changed since the previous full or incremental backup. (To restore, you need 1 Full + All Incremental.)
- Differential: these contain only the information that changed since the last full backup. (To restore, you need 1 Full + Last Differential.)
First, perform a full backup. Depending on the size of your hard drive(s) and the number of programs installed, this can take one hour up to an entire day. Then perform regular backups (either incremental or differential).
If your backup drive does not come with utility software, you can use the Microsoft Windows backup utility. It isn’t the best or most user-friendly software, but it does work if you have nothing else.
How to use the Windows Backup utility
To perform a full backup and create an optional emergency restore disk, you need a removable backup drive and an empty floppy disk (if you want to create the restore disk).
Make sure your backup drive is connected and turned on, then follow these steps:
- Click Start, then select All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup.
- Click Next to start the Backup or Restore Wizard.
- Select Backup files and settings, then click Next.
- For your first backup, select to backup All information on this computer, then click Next.
Note: If you are an advanced user and only want to backup certain drives or directories, select Let me choose what to backup.
- Choose a file location and name for the backup. The default settings are already filled in. Accept the default, or browse to a new location. (Just make sure the backup location is located on a removable drive.) Click Next.
- Verify your settings. If they are correct, click Finish. If the settings are not correct, click Back to make corrections. If you decide you do not want to perform the backup, click Cancel. You can also cancel the backup while it is in progress by clicking the Cancel button in the progress window.
- Follow the prompts to create the system restore disk.
Once you create a full backup and system restore disk with the Windows backup utility, make sure to save your data every day. However, if you do not work on your computer very often, weekly maintenance should be sufficient.
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