Windows 2000 Administration: Restoring Files and Folders

Although you can select different menu options and varying operations depending on your choice of media and backup routine, the basic procedure for a restoration is remarkably the same. The basic restore operation can be broken down into a series of steps. In each case, you manually select the files you need resurrected, picking the most useful options, and actually kicking off the entire process.

If you want to sleep better at night knowing that the backup system you sweated and slaved over all week is, in fact, doing what it's supposed to, consider a trial run. Schedule a Saturday, Sunday, or time out of the main schedule and away from a Super Bowl or a Star Trek marathon. Run through the restoration procedure you have set up. Knowing that everything's in good working order can help prevent nasty surprises as you attempt to recover from an emergency.

Starting the Backup utility and moving to the Restore panel

Because Microsoft has embedded so many new options and choices for backups and restorations, the Backup utility has separated the Backup screen from the Restore screen. When you open the Backup utility, you get a series of tabs which, when clicked, take you to function-specific panels.

Selecting the files and folders you want to restore

The Restore screen in the Backup utility provides you with two separate panes. In the left-hand one, a tree view of the files and folders that you have backed up is displayed. You can use this tree view in much the same way you use Windows Explorer to open drives and folders and select files, simply by clicking them.

Selecting the restoration location for your backed-up files and folders

The Restore function in the Backup utility provides you with three choices for the location of your restoration.

First, you can restore your backed-up data to the original folder where the data was located when you initiated the backup procedure. This option is a real advantage if you really are trying to restore a system, in the truest sense of the word. Replicating the exact structure of a directory is the surest course to making the restoration as transparent as possible, given the circumstances.

Second, you can select an alternate location for your backed-up data. As in the first option, you retain the structure of the backed-up folders, even if it's in an alternate folder. If you don't want to overwrite or change any of the current files or folders on your disk, but you want to retain a copy of the older file structure, this option may be your best bet.

Finally, you can elect to restore your backed-up files to a single folder. Instead of retaining the structure of the saved directories, the files are all dumped into the location without any reference to their prior order. This option is useful if you have no plans on restoring the old file structure, and want to find a file without hunting through a myriad of old folders. (After all, the files will still be listed alphabetically, making your search all the easier.)

Setting the restore options

The Backup utility provides a Restore tab in the Options dialog box that enables you to select how you want your files and folders restored. Once again, you can choose from one of three options:

  • Do not replace file on my computer: This selection prevents files on your hard drive from being overwritten. On the average, this method is safest for restoring files, which is probably why it's appended with the Recommended label.
  • Replace the file on disk only if the file on disk is older: If you're worried about losing changes that you made to your files since the last restoration, this will be your best option. Of course, if you've been mucking about with the system dates, this option could get a little tricky, which is a good argument against playing around with the system date utility without a good reason.
  • Always replace the file on my computer: Flat out, this option replaces all the files on your hard disk with your backup copy. If you've made changes to files or the directory structure since you last backed up your data, this option erases those changes. For this reason, this option is a fairly risky one to select (compared to the first two candidates).

Starting the restore operation

The Backup utility prompts you with a dialog box to confirm that you're ready to restore data. You also have the opportunity to set advanced restore options, such as whether you want to restore security settings and the Removable Storage database before you actually begin the restoration process.

The Registry, Active Directory service, and many other key components are contained in what is called the System State data. You must specifically back up this System State data if you want to back up and restore these components from a file, tape, or other media. If you restore the System State data but fail to designate an alternate location to restore the data, the Backup utility erases the System State data currently on your computer and replaces it with the System State data you're restoring.

You can restore the System State data only on a local computer. You won't be able to restore the System State data on a remote computer.

Administrators and Backup Operators can restore encrypted files and folders without having to decrypt them.

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