Windows Vista includes two types of backups:
- Files and folders. This backs up your documents. If you lose your hard disk, you can use this to restore your most important files. You’ll need to re-install Windows and all of your applications, though.
- Complete PC. This backs up your entire computer, including all of your applications and settings. This backs up your personal files, too, but it takes up so much space that you won’t want to do this on a daily basis. CompletePC backup is only available on Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions. It’s not part of Windows Vista Home Basic or Home Premium.
You should create a Complete PC backup when you first get your computer setup and all your applications installed. Then, schedule a files and folders backup nightly. You can run another Complete PC backup if you install new applications, or every six months.
First, buy yourself an external USB hard disk to hold your backup. You can’t backup to your C: drive, because you won’t be able to get to your backup if it dies. Here are some well-reviewed drives in different capacities: 250 GB, 500 GB, and 750 GB. I have the 750 gigger. Be sure to get one big enough to hold all your files.
To run a Complete PC backup, follow these steps:
1. Connect and turn on your external hard disk.
2. Click Start, type Backup, and then click Backup and Restore Center.
3. Click Back up computer.
4. On the Where Do You Want To Save The Backup page, click On a hard disk, and then select your disk. Click Next. Yes, you can backup your computer to DVDs if you have a writeable DVD drive, but it would take dozens of DVDs, and you’ll forget to do it on a regular basis.
5. Click Start Backup. Windows Vista will work for quite some time… It’ll probably take hours.
If your hard disk every fails, or if you get hit by a spyware or virus and you can’t fix your computer, you’ll be able to restore your computer using this backup from the Backup And Restore Center.