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How to Configure the Backup Program in Windows Vista

The first backup you make with Windows Backup is different from the rest of them, mostly because this first-time operation also configures the backup software. The following steps walk you through the process and assume that you’re backing up to an external hard drive or thumb drive that’s already connected to your PC:

  1. Open the Backup Status and Configuration window.

    From the Start Menu, All Programs→Accessories→System Tools→Backup Status and Configuration.

  2. Choose Set Up Automatic File Backup.

  3. If prompted, type the administrator’s password or click the Continue button.

    The computer looks for backup destinations:

    • Hard Drive: The best choice if you have an external hard drive, a thumb drive with plenty of space, or a separate, physical hard drive inside the computer (not a partition).

    • Optical Drive (CD or DVD): If you have more information to back up than can fit on a single optical disc, you’ll swap discs. Keep in mind that automatic backups require extra preparatory work.

    • Network Drive: Works only when the computer is connected to a server type of network. That explains why no shared network hard drive appears on the list.

  4. Choose the destination you want to back up to.

  5. Click the Next button.

    When your PC has more than one internal hard drive or disk partition, you may be prompted to select those additional disks for backup. Don’t unless you keep important files on those drives, such as images, music, or crucial documents.

  6. Choose any extra disk drives to back up if prompted.

  7. Click the Next button.

    The next step is to choose which types of files you want to back up. Back up all your personal information; keep all options selected.

  8. Click the Next button.

  9. Set a backup schedule.

    How often you back up depends on how often you use the computer and on the nature of the information it holds. In an office situation, you probably want to back up at the end of each work day. At home, it could be less often depending on how often you use the computer.

  10. Click the Save Settings and Run Backup button.

    A typical backup can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on how much stuff is being backed up.

  11. Click the Close button to dismiss the Back-Up Files window.

  12. Close the Backup Status and Configuration window.

Now you can use your computer with confidence. Files are regularly updated on the backup disk. They can swiftly and accurately be recovered if, and when, anything bad happens.

  • Your computer must be on when the backup takes place. The computer can be in either Stand By or Sleep mode, but an automatic backup doesn’t run when the computer is turned off or in Hibernation mode.

  • Backing up your data consumes computer resources. Be sure to schedule a backup for when you’re not doing anything else.

  • Every time you back up your files, the Windows Backup program creates a new, unique backup set on the backup drive. These sets are maintained like a database for use by the Restore portion of the Backup program. That way, not only can older files be recovered, but older versions of those files can also be recovered as well.

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