How to Perform Back Up and Restore in Windows 7

We all have files that are important to us, be it valuable work documents, irreplaceable photos, or even videos from the family vacation. These things are important to us, keeping an accurate backup gives you peace of mind knowing that the precious files are safe, and can be restored at any time.

In this article, I’ll go over the basics on how to backup and restore files using the Windows 7 Backup and Restore feature.

The backup process in Windows 7 is fairly simple:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Type “Backup” into the search box
  3. Click “Backup and Restore”
  4. Click Setup Backup

How to Perform Back Up and Restore in Windows 7


In the wizard that follows, you will be able to choose where to save your backup.

My personal recommendation is to purchase an external hard drive, equal to, or larger than the size of your current hard drive. It does not need as much space as your current hard drive, but having a larger sized backup drive allows for expansion later on. I also recommend to keep the external hard drive somewhere safe when not in use, preferably in a fire-resistant safe to protect from not only other people, but disasters such as a fire, as well.

External Hard Drive

Alternatively, you can also choose to burn your backups to a CD or DVD, copied to a thumb drive, or saved on a secondary internal hard drive. The reason I recommend an external hard drive over any other method, is CDs and DVDs can be scratched, thumb drives are limited on space, and in case of a fire, malicious virus, or other disaster, an internal hard drive would be destroyed as well as the main hard drive. If you have Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, you can also backup to a network location.

As you complete the wizard, you will be able to choose not only where you want to backup the data, but also what data you would like to backup. You will be given two choices: Let Windows Choose, which is recommended by Microsoft and Let Me Choose. While both choices are good, it really depends on how familiar you are with your computer and where your files are kept. If you’re not sure where everything is, then choosing “Let Windows Choose” may be your best option, but if you’re like me, and have files sprawled all over your computer, then Let Me Choose is definitely the better option.

Screenshot of Backup and Restore

Finally, you get to review your backup settings, as well as get access to a feature that is sometimes overlooked. You’ll noticed towards the bottom of the page there is a section marked Schedule. By clicking Change Schedule, you will be able to set up specific times for Windows to automatically backup all of your data — this can be monthly, weekly, or daily. You can also set the days and times for the backup to run.

Screen shot of Backup and Restore in Windows 7

After you complete the wizard, your first backup will be created. In the future, you will be able to either wait for your scheduled backup, or at the Backup and Restore page, you can choose “Back up now” to backup at any time.

Restoring your files is just as easy. Below the Backup section of Backup and Restore, you’ll see the Restore section. Just click on Restore all users’ files or select another backup to restore files from and follow the prompt to restore all of your original files, folders, and media to their original state.

Screen shot of the restore section of Backup and Restore in Windows 7

Take caution in restoring though, unless absolutely necessary. If some files have been updated or added since the last backup, they may be replaced or become nonexistent after the restore. The restore feature should only be used in the event of a hard drive failure, data loss, or disaster in which the files no longer exist or are corrupt. While the restore feature can be helpful in some other situations, it is generally only used for disaster recovery and sometimes transferring to a new system.

Conclusion

We all have files and information on our computer systems that are important to us. The best thing you can do to help protect them is to keep them backed up.

Although the Backup and Restore feature of Windows 7 isn’t the only way to back up files, it is a clean and easy way to schedule and maintain accurate and complete backups of your most important system files, all from within Windows 7 itself.

There is no “one way” that works best for everybody, so be sure to explore other backup methods if this one doesn’t work out for you, for example, the applications that come with some external hard drives.

If you have any tips and tricks for backing up or restoring files and media, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Stay safe everyone, and back up those files!

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