Disaster Recovery

Back up your files with Vista's Back Up Files wizard

Here's how to use the Back Up Files wizard to configure an automated backup of your data files.

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.

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.

Figure B

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.

Figure C

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.

Figure D

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.

Subsequent backups

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.

Figure E

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.

More later

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.

About

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.

19 comments
qwertyuiop101
qwertyuiop101

It would be nice to be able to do a one time backup of my files. I'm using an external disk, and I remove it between backups to put it out of reach of whatever might clobber my main drive. Scheduling a backup will mean that it will clobber the next time the schedule comes up when it can't find the removable drive.

kluza
kluza

What do you do when you have this alleged fantastic product and it won't let you backup anything. All I get is 0x80070422 error. Thanks to Microsoft & Vista, no back-up for the first time in my computer life. I checked the Internet. Pages & Pages of writings & ways to correct a problem caused by Microsoft. The Solutions always have a grand caveat always to let them know if it works - SO FAR NOTHING WORKS. Also I shouldn't forget the ones that desire Big Money to correct this Little Problem. Is there anyone that can walk an illiterate and stupid Non-Geek with this problem without asking me to let them know if it works. Stupidly Sincere, Antoni

mgaudard
mgaudard

My copy of Restore and Backup Center will not do automatic backups. Although it indicates that automatic backups are turned on - they are scheduled for 3 AM - it does not create the backups. I need to do this manually. Also, any attempts to change any of the settings, such as the automatic backup time, do not take effect. I wonder if the program has somehow become corrupted. Any thoughts on how to fix this? Can I download this component anew? Thanks for any help anyone can provide.

jim.moseley
jim.moseley

I have a dual H/D laptop. I have a external H/D that I backup to. My problem is the files that I update aren't being backed up or new file put into a directory aren't being backed up. Any ideas?

admiralthrawn999
admiralthrawn999

RAID 5 :) It works better than the Windows System. Also, I like Karen's replicator as well.

holmescd
holmescd

not everyone else's. Why must I be forced to backup the entire contents of the hard drive? I certainly don't want anyone else making a backup of my files; I would expect that someone else would feel the same way about theirs. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but to me it seems ridicules. Have I missed something?

FXEF
FXEF

A Vista crash and good-bye data. I store all my data files on a separate disk drive (D:\). I don't want my data on the C:\ drive that Windows is on. I see no option to back up just D:\ in the wizard.

Russ
Russ

As with most new systems now-a-days. I did not get a Vista Operating system cd/dvd. Can I restore from the complete back-up with it? I have worked on a new Lenevo laptop and IBM has a back-up within it that does not require you to have the Vista Op. cd/dvd. I have ran the restore successfully if it. Thanks Russ

Fil0403
Fil0403

or buy backup software. You must be forced to backup the entire contents of the hard drive so Microsoft is not forced to pay millions of $ for supposedly being anti-competitive. With that in mind, you say you don't want anyone else making a backup of your files, so you prefer loosing them? I understand you feel that way, but you also have to think how Microsoft feels being fined with millions of $. You're are not wrong in that you have to back up everything, but you're wrong in thinking it's ridiculous, it's rules. And no, you haven't missed anything.

Russ
Russ

I see viruses and registery destructions. And a whole replacement of the system back to a certain date is good then.

Russ
Russ

I see viruses and registery destructions. And a whole replacement of the system back to a certain date is good then.

Russ
Russ

I see viruses and registery destructions. And a whole replacement of the system back to a certain date is good then.

FXEF
FXEF

Looks like Vista backup was designed by dummies for dummies. The only option in the wizard is to backup all users files on C:\ drive only.

Fil0403
Fil0403

Interesting you say "A Vista crash and good-bye data", because Vista has crashed me (trying to run an old Java version uncompatible with Vista, for testing purposes) and I lost 0 data. The purpose of this feature is to avoid you loose your data in case of a Vista failure; if you already have your data on a different hard disk or partition from where Vista is, you won't loose your data anyway in case of a Vista failure, that's why the option is probably not there, Vista can't include everything anyway otherwise Microsoft is again accused of anti-competitive actions; if you still want to back it up buy an external hard drive like me or burn manually to a DVD-DL.

ddieser
ddieser

I appears that the backup must fit on a single DVD. Every time I tried to do a full backup to a DVD, it fails. Gave up and got a different backup utility.

fweitzman
fweitzman

You don't need a VISTA disk to restore, and there is an option to restore selected files rather than the whole hard drive. UNFORTUNATELY, there doesn't seem to be a way to backup network drives or to select part of a hard drive to backup. You have to do the whole drive or nothing when you backup.

PapaWhiskey
PapaWhiskey

I won't buy Vista for the 30+ computers at my workplace, because I will be forced to spend another $1500 to buy backup software. So you're saying that the perfectly capable backup utility in Windows XP got Microsoft fined because backup software developers complained that it took away business? If that's the case, then they better take out Paint, Notepad, Wordpad, Internet Explorer, Disk Defragmenter, and all other native utilities that might conflict with 3rd party software that can perform the same tasks.

Fil0403
Fil0403

No, Vista backup was designed by professionals for the people who keep complaining Microsoft is a monopoly and takes anti-competitive measures including everything with Windows. If you want more options do it manually or buy backup software.

Robbomaz
Robbomaz

I back up my business machine across my home LAN to my non-critical machine. No problem with scheduled backups. Not being able to pick the specific files is a pain though

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