If you're running the Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista, you can automate the entire process of backing up your data files on a regular basis by using the Back Up Files wizard. (The Back Up Files wizard in Windows Vista Home Basic does not include the automated scheduling feature, but it will remind you to back up your files periodically.) In order to streamline the entire backup procedure, Microsoft redesigned this version of its backup utility so that it only backs up data files -- application and system files are not included. (The ability to back up all your files is handled by the Windows Complete PC Backup utility, which I covered in a previous article.)
In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll take a closer look at the Back Up Files wizard. As I do, I'll walk you through a backup operation.
Accessing the Back Up Files wizard
There are two ways you can access the Back Up Files wizard: from the Backup and Restore Center by clicking Start | All Programs | Maintenance or from the Backup Status and Configuration page by clicking Start | All Programs | Accessories | System tools. For this article's example, I'll focus on the Backup Status and Configuration page, shown in Figure A.
|You can also launch the Back Up Files wizard from the Backup Status and Configuration page.|
After you launch the wizard, you'll encounter a User Account Control (UAC) dialog box and will need to respond accordingly. Then, the Back Up Files wizard will actually start.
Creating the initial file backup
As you can see in Figure A, the first time that you access the Back Up Files wizard, you'll need to set up, or schedule, the automatic file backup. When you click the Set Up Automatic File Backup button, you'll encounter a UAC.
At the Back Up Files screen, shown in Figure B, you'll be prompted to select the location to save your backup. The Back Up Files wizard can save backups to a CD or DVD burner, a network drive, or a secondary internal or external drive. It does not support tape drives or flash drives, and you can't save a backup to the same drive on which Vista is installed.
|The first thing that you need to do is select a location to store your backup file.|
Once you choose a backup location, the Back Up Files wizard will prompt you to choose the types of files that you want to back up. As you can see in Figure C, every type of data file that you can think of is included by default. There's even an Additional Files option that will pick up any data files that don't fall into the predefined categories. You can pick and choose the types of files you want to back up by selecting the check boxes.
|The Back Up Files wizard includes just about every type of data file in its default configuration.|
When you click Next, the scheduling screen which will prompt you to decide how often you want to create a backup, as shown in Figure D. While the default is Weekly, you can also choose Daily or Monthly from the How Often drop down list. Of course, the What Day and What Time options will change accordingly.
|You'll be prompted to choose a schedule for your backups.|
Now, you'll click the Save Settings and Start Backup button. When you do, the Back Up Files wizard will scan your computer for the data file types you selected and begin backing up your files. As it does, you'll see a progress bar.
Once you create the initial backup, you really never have to think about backing up your files again since the Back Up Files wizard will regularly back up your files according to the schedule you set. It will also keep a lookout for any new or modified files and automatically add those to the backup.
You can return to the Backup Status and Configuration page at any time to check up on the Back Up Files wizard. As you can see in Figure E, the Backup Status section tells you when the last successful backup occurred as well as when the next backup will occur.
|You can keep tabs on the Back Up Files wizard in the Status section of the Backup Status and Configuration page.|
If you ever need to create a backup on the fly, you can click the Backup Now button. Of course, you'll have to work through a UAC. You can also click the Change Backup Settings if you want to change file types, alter the schedule, and even create a completely new full backup.
In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I've shown you how to use the Back Up Files wizard to configure an automated backup of your data files. Next week, I'll discuss the Restore Files wizard.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.