Data Centers

Get IT Done: Back up Windows 2000

Learn how to use the Backup utility in Win2K and see how it differs from the NT Backup program.

If you've worked with computers for any time at all, you've no doubt had the concept of backing up drilled into your head more times than you can count. If you use the Windows NT Backup program to perform your nightly backups, you might be a bit disturbed to learn that the Backup program has changed considerably in Windows 2000. However, the Windows 2000 Backup program is drastically improved over the Windows NT version. In this Daily Drill Down, we'll discuss the Windows 2000 Backup program in detail.

What's new?
If you're a Windows NT veteran, you may be wondering why we even bothered to write a drill down on the Windows 2000 backup program. However, there's a lot that has changed. For example, now you can back up to any destination, not just to tape. Microsoft has also included a scheduler program with the new Backup program. Finally, there are technical issues that the new Backup program addresses, such as being able to back up the directory services, and the new attributes associated with the current version of NTFS.

Launching Backup
You can launch the Backup program by navigating from the Start menu to Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Backup. When you launch Backup, you'll see the Welcome window shown in Figure A. As you can see, the Welcome window contains a Backup Wizard, a Restore Wizard, and the option to create an Emergency Repair Disk. The wizards are helpful if you're in a hurry, but to get a feel for the true potential of Backup, we won't use them in this drill down.

Figure A
The Welcome window contains a Backup Wizard, a Restore Wizard, and the option to create an Emergency Repair Disk.

Creating a backup
To create your own backup, select the Backup tab. When you do, you'll see a window similar to the one shown in Figure B. At first glance, this tab looks like every other backup program in the world, but it's worth taking a closer look.

Figure B
At first glance, the Backup tab looks like every other backup program in the world, but things aren't what they seem.

As you can see in the figure, the top half of the window is divided into two windows. These windows allow you to select the items that you want to back up. Some portions of this window are fairly obvious. For example, to back up drive C, you'd select the check box next to C. If you wanted to back up a specific folder on drive C, you'd click the plus sign next to C to expand it, then select the folder that you want to back up. These operations are pretty standard in most backup programs.

However, some selections deserve a little explaining. As you might have noticed in the figure, the first item that you can select for backup is My Computer. Although you can't select the My Computer icon for backup (at least not in our beta version), you can expand it. By selecting the items beneath My Computer, you can back up your entire system.

My Computer is a shortcut for My Documents. This option is handy if you want to back up only the My Documents folder and its subfolders. By using this option, you don't have to navigate the entire directory tree to get to the desired folder.

Another item that you'll see in this window is System State. As you can see in Figure C, System State contains several subcomponents, which need some explaining. First, though, it's important to point out that the options available in our beta copy that appear in Figure C don't match a document that Microsoft has released regarding the final product. For the purposes of this drill down, we'll assume that the Microsoft text is correct, since it's newer than our copy of Windows 2000.

Figure C
The System State section allows you to back up essential elements of the operating system.

System State subcomponents
Here is a list of the options you’ll see:
  • The Registry—As you probably know, the Registry is a database that controls virtually every aspect of Windows. It tells Windows such information as what hardware is installed in the system and which colors to use on the window.
  • Components Services Class Registration Database—This is a new feature in Windows 2000. It's a database that stores object class information. We'll publish more information on this database as it becomes available.
  • System Startup Files—This option allows you to back up the files responsible for the initial boot-up. On Intel systems, these include NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM. On Alpha systems, this option refers to the OSLOADER.EXE file.
  • Certificate Service Database—As you may know, a certificate is a file used to aid in the secure exchange of information over an insecure medium, such as the Internet. Selecting this option in the Backup program will back up all certificates assigned to your system.
  • Active Directory Services—Selecting this option backs up all security information found in the active directory, such as information about user accounts, printers, and groups. This option backs up the directory itself and the objects contained within it.
  • SysVol Folder—This option backs up the shared system volume. The shared system volume is a directory structure that exists on all Windows 2000 domain controllers. It's responsible for storing scripts and certain policy objects.

Selecting other backup options
The final option that you'll see in the backup source window is My Network Places. Although you can't use this option to back up the entire network, you can access share points on other computers on the network. You can back up any share that you have rights to.

Now, you're ready to begin the actual backup process. To do so, select a destination from the Backup Destination drop-down list. If you're backing up to a file, you can use the Browse button to set the file's name and location. Next, select the Options command from the Tools menu and navigate to the General tab of the Options properties sheet. As you can see in Figure D, this tab allows you to specify that you want to verify data after the backup process is complete, among other settings.

Figure D
The Options dialog box allows you to fine-tune your backup.

When you've set all the backup options, click OK to close the Options properties sheet. You may now click the Start Backup button to launch the backup. When you do, you'll see the Backup Job Information dialog box. You can append to a backup job, regardless of its location. This means that you can use the append feature even if you're backing up to a file. This is very handy for automated backups.

At this point, you have a couple of options. You can click the Advanced button to decide what type of backup you want to create (full, incremental, differential, etc.). The Advanced Backup Options dialog box also allows you to perform such tasks as enabling compression, enabling verify, and backing up data that's in remote storage.

When you've made your selections, close the Advanced Backup Options dialog box. You may now click the Start Backup button to launch the backup, or you can click Schedule, to set the backup to run later.

Scheduling a backup
Scheduling a backup is easy. You may do so either through the process we just described, or by selecting the Schedule Jobs tab, shown in Figure E. As you can see in the figure, the Schedule Jobs tab appears as a large calendar.

Figure E
The Schedule Jobs tab allows you to automatically run the backup at any desired time.

To schedule a backup job, simply double-click on the date that you want to run the backup, or click the Add Job button. Doing so launches the Backup Wizard. The Backup Wizard will ask you a series of questions that closely match the options that we discussed earlier. Later in the wizard, you'll be prompted for the Administrator's password. This allows the backup to run unattended.

After entering the password, you'll be asked when you want the backup to run. To schedule the job, enter a job name, select the Later radio button, and click the Set Schedule button. When you do, you'll see the window shown in Figure F. Notice that this window allows you to set how often the job will run, what days it will run on, and a start time. You can also use the Advanced tab to abort a job if it hasn't finished by a certain time.

Figure F
You can set the backup to run at certain dates and times.

When you're done, you'll see the calendar updated with the jobs that you've scheduled. You can see an example of this in Figure G. To remove a scheduled job from the calendar, double-click on it. When you see the Scheduled Job Options properties sheet, click the Delete button. You'll be asked if you really want to delete the job. Click Yes to continue. When you do, the job will be deleted. It's important to note that all jobs based on that job file will be deleted. Therefore, if you've set up a daily backup, deleting the file will remove today's backup, but also every other day's backup that's based on that job.

Figure G
The calendar displays the backup schedule.

The Restore tab is self-explanatory. Simply select the items that you want to restore from the desired media. You can also select whether you want to restore to the original location, an alternate location, or a single folder, via the Restore File To drop-down box. When you click the Start Restore button, you have a chance to set a few replication options. Once you're satisfied with your selections, click OK to begin the restore process.

The Windows 2000 Backup program is very different from the version included in Windows NT. In this Daily Drill Down, we've discussed this new Backup program in detail.

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE and works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail. (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox