How to Backup Vista with the New Backup Utility

Remember the old days of using NTBackup to backup your computer? It had its pros and cons, but nonetheless it got the job done.

Ever wish it had a way to backup your whole computer instead of just individual files? With Vista’s new Backup Utility you can make a complete PC backup, and/or backup individual files.

The old utility seemed incomplete and I always ended up purchasing something like Norton Ghost, Veritas, or Acronis to make a backup. Why wasn’t the built in backup utility a more robust program? After all, backing up your computer is essential.

In the new backup utility, Microsoft has simplified the interface and made backing up your computer much easier.

Today I’ll show you step-by-step how to:

  • Setup automatic file backup on your computer
  • Restore your files from an automatic backup
  • Perform a complete PC backup
  • Restore your complete PC backup

Setting up Automatic File Backup

1. To start Vista Backup Status and Configuration click Start, type “backup status” and press Enter.

Alternately you can navigate to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and click Backup Status and Configuration.

The Backup Status and Configuration window will appear.

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2. Click “Setup automatic file backup” and then click Continue when you receive the UAC prompt.

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3. Now we need to specify where to backup your files. We can back them up to a portable hard drive, CD, DVD, or to your network.

In this example I will setup a backup to a network share. So click “On a network” and enter the path to the shared folder.

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4. Next, we need to specify which types of files to backup. Note: the backup utility can only backup files on NTFS disks and doesn’t backup system files, executable files, and temporary files.

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5. How often should this backup run? It depends on your scenario but for most people a weekly backup is sufficient.

If you are a musician, artist, or create tons of new documents daily, then a daily backup might be better suited for you. When you are done selecting the frequency of the backup, click “Save settings and start backup“.

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6. The backup will start searching the computer for file types we specified, and then add them to the backup. Sit back and relax or grab a cup of coffee while the backup runs. When it is finished you will see this message.

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Now your automatic backup is set and you have a fresh backup of your files.

Restoring Files from Automatic Backup

1. So now that you have a backup, how do you restore a file? With the Backup Status and Configuration window open, click Restore Files from the left pane.

Here you can choose to do an Advanced Restore which allows you to restore files from a backup created by a different computer or restore files for all users of your computer.

You can also do a regular restore from a backup made by your computer. We are going to do a basic restore for this example, so click Restore files.

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2. Now we need to select which backup to restore from, the newest backup or an older backup. For this example we’re going to restore from the newest backup. Click Next.

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3. This is where we select which files or folders to restore. Click Add files to see the list of files you can restore.

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4. Highlight the files you want to add to the restore and click Add.

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Note: You can also add folders to restore if you need to restore the entire Documents folder, for example. There is a built in search feature as well if you don’t remember where the file is.

When you are done selecting the files and folders you want to restore click Next.

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5. Do you want to restore the files to their original location or to a different location? For this example we’re going to restore files to their original location.

Click Start restore to begin the restoration process.

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6. Click Finish when the restore has completed.

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How to Perform a Complete PC Backup

So you have a backup of your files, but what about all the programs you have installed? No one wants the arduous task of reinstalling all of their programs after a hard drive dies and you’ve reinstalled your operating system.

How can we backup everything including the operating system, programs, and files? Easy — with the new Complete PC Backup option. Here are the steps.

1. Plug in your backup drive or get your blank DVDs ready. Open Backup Status and Configuration by clicking Start, typing “backup status” and pressing Enter.

When the Backup Status and Configuration window appears, click Complete PC Backup.

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2. The above window shows if your PC has been backed up using the Complete PC Backup. As you can see, my computer has not been backed up.

To start the Complete PC Backup, click “Create a backup now“.

And click Continue when you receive the UAC prompt.

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3. Now we need to select where to save the backup. A USB hard drive or another internal hard drive is preferable, but if you don’t have any extra hard drives you can use DVDs.

Select where you want to save your backup and click Next.

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4. Double check the backup settings to make sure they are correct. If everything looks correct, click Start Backup.

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Your PC will start the backup and you can sit back and relax.

Restoring Your Complete PC Backup

Now that you have your Complete PC Backup, you have a copy of your entire computer with all of your programs and settings. So what do you do if your hard drive crashes and you need to restore this Complete PC Backup?

1. After you replace the bad hard drive get your original Vista media disks. Boot from your Vista CD/DVD and wait for the first menu. Select your language and click Next. Now click Repair your computer.

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2. In the System Recovery Options window we don’t have an Operating System installed at the moment so just click Next.

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3. Now click Windows Complete PC Restore. It will search for your computer for a backup drive with a complete backup.

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4. When it finds the backup verify it is the correct backup that you want to restore; you can also choose to restore a different backup. After you have the correct backup selected click Next.

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5. There is one last prompt to verify all settings and once you’ve done that click Finish.

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6. This process will format the destination drive so make sure you are restoring to the correct drive. Confirm that it is okay to format your disks and click Ok.

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Now the restore process will start. Go grab some dinner and come back later while it restores your computer.

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Backing Up Your Computer

Always make sure to backup your computer to an external source when possible to prevent data loss. Vista now has the capability to backup your whole PC so why not take advantage of it.

If you recently had to rebuild your Vista computer and just installed all of your programs, make a complete PC backup and store it as a “recovery disk”. That way you can restore your PC to the way it was just after you installed your operating system and programs.

Make backups a regular thing so you can be ready just in case the worst happens.

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