Windows Vista -
How to Back up important files and folders in Windows
Published on 06/5/2011
Tucked away within Vista is a built-in backup utility. Here's how to take advantage of it

How to Back up important files and folders in Windows

Personal files are often the most valuable items stored on the hard disk and are hard to replace in case they are corrupted. It is highly recommended to backup your data. Vista Home Premium includes everything needed to get started. Anyone who is working with a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate has access to an additional backup tool in the formof Complete PC Backup. Rather than just backing up personal files and folders, this tool makes it possible to back up the entire contents of your hard drive, including the programs that are installed and any settings that have been put in place. Whichever version of Vista you have, it is worth familiarising yourself with its backup utility as it provides a handy means of safeguarding data.

Step 1
Launch the backup tool by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup Status and Configuration. Ensure you are in the backup section of the program by clicking the Back Up Files link on the left of the screen. In the case of Vista Home Premium, Back Up Files and Restore Files options will be available, while Vista Ultimate adds Complete PC Backup. Assuming this is the first backup to have been created in this way, Windows should indicate that an ‘automatic backup file is not yet set’. Click the button labelled ‘Set up automatic file backup’ and then click Continue when the User Account Control dialogue box appears.

Step 2
Vista will then check to see the types of storage device are available to save the backup to. To save the backup to a local hard drive, USB drive or burn the data on a CD or DVD, select the option labelled ‘On a hard disk, CD or DVD’ and then use the dropdown menu to choose a storage location. Alternatively, select
the ‘On a network’ option and then use the Browse button to select a folder on a networked computer, which should be used to store the backup before clicking Next. If you have opted to use a network location, provide the username and password to gain access to the computer.

Step 3
The next step is to indicate the types of file you would like to back up. In the majority of cases, it is advisable to leave all the tick boxes selected so that all files will be included in the backup, thereby eliminating the risk of forgetting to include important files. By holding the mouse over one of the labels to the left, a description of what a particular file category includes will be displayed to the right. Files for all users of the computer will be included in the backup, so there is no need to specify individual options. With file types selected, click the Next button to continue.

Step 4
Vista’s backup tool can be configured to automatically run on a schedule. Just how often a backup needs to be updated depends largely on how the computer is used. If new files are created regularly, or existing files are edited frequently, it is a good idea to ensure that updates are made more often than if the computer is not used very much. From the first dropdown menu, choose between running the backup on a schedule daily, weekly or monthly, then use the second menu to specify a day, or date. From the third menu, select a time to run the backup, then click ‘Save settings and start backup’.

Step 5
Vista will now collect information about the types of files that have been marked for inclusion in the backup and will then begin the backup process. Once this is complete, the Backup Status and Configuration screen will indicate that the Automatic File Backup feature is enabled and that the last backup was successful. This screen can be used at any time to update the backup (by clicking the ‘Back up now’ button, the backup will be kept up to date automatically using the scheduling options that have been configured). Use the ‘Change backup setting’ button to make changes to the types of file that should be included in the backup, where it should be stored, or to edit the schedule.

Step 6
To use a backup that has been created, click the Restore Files button to the left of the screen, then click ‘Restore files’. You can choose between working with the most recently created backup, or an older one, before clicking Next and selecting which files and folders to restore. Alternatively, the ‘Advanced restore’ option can be used to restore all the files included in a particular backup or to restore a backup created on a different computer. All that remains is to indicate the location to which files should be restored — this can be the original location, or a different folder. Click the ‘Start restore’ button to extract files from the backup.