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Backing up your data in Windows

The following instructions are for large backups (like all of some sort of file). For backing up individual files, see http://web.reed.edu/cis/help/backup.html

Backing up with Windows 7

Backup Files

It's a good idea to do general file backups more frequently.  Vista's backup utility does this by allowing you to select types of files rather than individual files.
  1. Plug in and turn on your external backup drive or insert a blank DVD (CDs are not big enough for this type of backup).
  2.  Open the Start Menu and navigate to Control Panel > (System and Maintenance) > Backup and Restore Center.
  3. Click the "Setup backup" link.
  4. Select your backup drive from the list of drives. Click Next.
  5. Select "Let me Choose". Click Next.
  6. Check the boxes of the User(s)/Files you want to back up.

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  7. Click Next.
  8. Review your choices. Click "change schedule" at the bottom of the window if you wish to setup certain dates and times to automatically backup your files.

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  9. Click "Save settings and exit".
  10. Back in the main settings pane, click "Back up now" in the top right of the window.

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Subsequent Backups:

For subsequent backups simply return to the Backup and Restore Center, click the type of backup you wish to do, and follow the prompts.

Backing Up in Vista Professional

Vista includes a Backup Utility, called the Backup and Restore Center which makes it incredibly easy to back files up. The Backup and Restore Center offers two backup options. 
Note: The Backup Your Entire Computer function does not exist for Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium.

Backup Your Entire Computer

The backup created with this function is like taking a snapshot of your entire computer.  If your system crashed or your hard drive failed, this back up could be used to restore all the programs, system settings and files.  This back up should be redone every six months. 

  1. Plug in and turn on your external backup drive or insert a blank DVD (CDs are not big enough for this type of backup).
  2. Open the Start Menu and navigate to Control Panel --> Backup and Restore Center.
  3. Select Back up Computer and select where you want to back up to (a DVD or your external backup drive).
  4. Click Next and then click Start Backup.
  5. Despite what Windows says, you can label the DVD when its done backing up, so just hit ok and then format when the next window pops up.  This will take a long time, so make sure your charger is handy.

Backup Files

It's a good idea to do general file backups more frequently.  Vista's backup utility does this by allowing you to select types of files rather than individual files.
  1. Plug in and turn on your external backup drive or insert a blank DVD (CDs are not big enough for this type of backup).
  2.  Open the Start Menu and navigate to Control Panel --> Backup and Restore Center.
  3. Select Back up Files and select where you want to back up to (a DVD or an external hard drive).
  4. Click Next and then chose what types of files you want to backup.
  5. Despite what Windows says, you can label the DVD when its done backing up, so just hit ok and then format when the next window pops up.  You can use the same DVD for all subsequent backups.

    Choosing which file to backup

Subsequent Backups:

For subsequent backups simply return to the Backup and Restore Center, click the type of backup you wish to do, and follow the prompts.

Backup in XP

Windows XP also includes a backup utility, appropriately called Backup Utility. The instructions below outline a basic, incremental backup strategy using this powerful tool. 

Initial Set Up

The first thing we need to do is tell Backup Utility what we want to back up & where we want to back it up.  These only need to be configured once.

  1. Open the Start menu and navigate to All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools. Click on Backup.
  2. Uncheck the box marked "Always start in wizard mode".
  3. Click the link to switch to Advanced mode.
  4. Near the top of the main Backup Utility window, select the Backup tab.
  5. In the left hand pane, navigate to Desktop -> My Computer -> Your Hard Drive (C:) -> Documents and Settings -> Username (your username)
  6. Place a checkmark in the box to the left of your username.
  7. In the Job menu, choose Save Selections.  Name your saved selections "My Backup Selections", and save them to your hard drive (your My Documents folder is a good place to save this file).
Note: The steps above will select your user profile only.  This includes files in My Documents, My Music, your Desktop, and any subfolder of these folders.  If you have important files saved in folders outside your user profile, you must navigate to those folders and place a checkmark in the box to the left of the folder name.

Selecting Where To Save Your Backup Set

  1. Make sure your external backup drive is powered on, and plugged into your computer.
  2. From the Tools menu, choose Options.
  3. In the Options window, select the Backup Type tab.
  4. Under "Default Backup Type", make sure that Incremental is selected.  Click OK to exit the Options window.
  5. Near the bottom left of the main Backup Utility window, select the Browse... button.
  6. Navigate to your external hard drive, and click Save to choose your backup destination.

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Running Your First Backup

winxp backup main screenshot

  1. Confirm that the left hand pane still has your selection of files you want to back up.
  2. Under "Backup Options", the backup type must be set to Incremental backup.
  3. The "Backup media or file name:" should be the location on your external drive that you chose in the initial setup.
  4. Click Start Backup.
  5. In the window that pops up, click Start Backup once again.  Your backup will now begin.

Your first backup should take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how much data you have on your machine.  When the backup is finished, Backup Utility will pop open a window that says "The backup is complete."  You can then click the Close button, then close Backup Utility. 

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Subsequent Backups

Once you've run your first backup, incremental backups are going to be easier and quicker.

  1. Always make sure your external backup drive is powered on and plugged into your computer.
  2. Open Backup from Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools
  3. Select the Backup tab.
  4. From the Job menu, select "My Backup Selections" (you saved these selections in the initial setup above).
  5. Double-check the backup type (Incremental) and the "Backup media or file name:" location.
  6. Click Start Backup.
  7. In the window that pops up, click Start Backup again.

Note: Because this is an incremental strategy, old files are not erased from your backup drive.  New and modified files are simply added to the backup set.  To avoid running out of space, we recommend that you remove the current backup set and start this process again from scratch every 6 months.

If you have questions about backups in Windows, please contact Computer User Services.

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