Windows 7 Backup and Restore
There are several ways to backup and restore data, but making a usable clone of the system disk is generally something that only advanced software utilities can offer. In the past, 3rd-party programs such as Acronis True Image have been successful at this, but Microsoft makes these tools available in all versions their Windows 7/8/10 Operating Systems. The improved Backup and Restore center that comes with Windows 7 offers full-system backup and restore functionality, but only Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate Edition allows you to back up data to a network location. The Backup and Restore center directly offers three application choices: Windows Backup, Create a system image, and Create a system repair disk.
Windows Backup allows you to make copies of data files for all people that use the computer. You can let Windows choose what to back up or you can select the individual folders, libraries, and drives that you want to back up. By default, your backups are created on a regular schedule. You can change the schedule and you can manually create a backup at any time. Once you set up Windows Backup, Windows keeps track of the files and folders that are new or modified and adds them to your backup.
To reach the Windows 7 Backup and Restore center simply: click the Windows Start button, click Control Panel, then click System and Maintenance, and finally click on the Backup and Restore icon. If you’ve never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. If you’ve created a backup before, you can wait for your regularly scheduled backup to occur or you can manually create a new backup by clicking Back up now.
After you create your first backup, Windows Backup will add new or changed information to your subsequent backups (also called an incremental backup). If you’re saving backup files on a hard drive or network location, Windows Backup will create an automatic full backup when needed. If you’re saving your backups on CDs or DVDs and can’t find an existing backup disc, or if you want to create a new backup of all of the files on your computer, you can create a new full backup.
Nothing lasts forever, which is why data backup’s are so essential. Even if the computer isn’t used for business, backing-up file data from the My Documents folder can save hours of work recreating the lost files. There are many useful reasons to use Windows Backup, and all of them revolve around keeping data safe and accessable. Benchmark Reviews recommends that you don’t back up your files to the same drive that Windows is installed on; this also includes recovery or additional partitions on the same drive. This information is visible in Windows Disk Manager, which is helpful for showing that system drive ‘C’ and data drive ‘D’ may actually reside on the same physical Hard Disk or Solid State Drive. Using an external device or optical media is a much better option. Always store media used for backups (external hard disks, DVDs, or CDs) in a secure place to prevent unauthorized people from having access to your files; a fireproof location separate from your computer is a good alternative. Also consider encrypting the data on your backup so that it can’t be restored without permission.
System Restore helps you restore your computer’s system files to an earlier point in time. It’s a way to undo system changes to your computer without affecting your personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos. System Restore uses a feature called system protection to regularly create and save restore points on your computer. These restore points contain information about registry settings and other system information that Windows uses. You can also create restore points manually.
While not part of the Windows 7 Backup and Restore center group, Microsoft has enabled a ‘Previous Versions’ feature in Windows 7. Previous versions are copies of files and folders that Windows automatically saves as part of system protection. You can use previous versions to restore files or folders that you accidentally modified or deleted, or that were damaged. Depending on the type of file or folder, you can open, save to a different location, or restore a previous version. Previous versions can be helpful, but should not be considered a backup because the files get replaced by new versions and will not be available if the drive were to fail.
For what it offers, Windows Backup is a great tool for archiving file data and system information. In the event of an accidental file deletion or disk corruption, Windows Backup can be used to easily restore original files. If your computer crashes, you can also use this data to recover lost or corrupt system files. Unfortunately the program is rather limited, because if the entire drive is formatted or becomes non-operational, you’ll need a system image to recreate the boot data and system files.
A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or computer ever stops working. When you restore your computer from a system image, it’s a complete restoration-you can’t choose individual items to restore, and all of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced with the contents of the system image. Benchmark Reviews details the steps necessary to create a Windows 7 System Image in the next section.