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.