Backing up data on a Windows Vista computer

Windows Vista has a utility called the "Backup and Restore Center" that helps you easily backup your data and files. You now have options to:

  • back up users' files,
  • back up the entire computer (not available to Vista Home users),
  • create a restore point,
  • recover files from previous backups, and
  • undo changes that may have caused computer problems.

To access the Backup and Restore Center, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Double-click Backup and Restore Center. You should see a dialog box similar to the following:

backup center dialog box

You should back up your personal files on a regular basis because no matter how new your computer is, the hard drive may fail at any time--taking all your files with it.

  1. Click Back up files.
  2. When the User Account Control dialog box opens, click Continue.
  3. Decide where you want to save your backup. Make sure that you have enough blank media to complete your backup. You can save your backup to any of the following media:
  • a writable CD (stores approximately 700MB of data),
  • a writable DVD (stores approximately 4.7GB of data--almost 7 times that of a CD),
  • an external hard drive (ususally connected by a USB cable), or
  • a network drive to which you have access.
  1. Choose the option that you want to use to backup.
  2. Click Next.
  3. On the Which disks do you want to include in the backup? dialog box, select the disk(s) you want to backup.
  4. Click Next.
  5. On the Which file types do you want to back up? dialog box, uncheck the files types that you do not want to back up. (Vista recommends that you leave all file types selected.)
  6. Click Next.
  7. Choose how often you want your backups to happen. Your first backup will probably be your largest since it will back up every file that fits your backup criteria. Subsequent backups will only save files that have been added or changed since the last backup.
  8. Click Save settings and start backup.
  9. Insert your blank media into the appropriate drive. When prompted, insert each new disk and label them as instructed. Labeling your media will make restoring files in the future much easier.