Windows 7 : Using the Windows Backup Program

- How To Install Windows Server 2012 On VirtualBox
- How To Bypass Torrent Connection Blocking By Your ISP
- How To Install Actual Facebook App On Kindle Fire
10/12/2010 3:40:13 PM
The Windows Backup program (Sdclt.exe) is installed by default in all editions of Windows 7. Its feature set is dramatically improved over its predecessor in Windows Vista, which was roundly (and deservedly) criticized for its inflexibility and for Microsoft's decision to remove important features from the program in home editions. And it's light-years beyond the NT Backup program included with Windows XP, which was designed before the turn of the millennium.

Before you can create a backup, you are strongly encouraged to run through a brief setup routine. The purpose of this one-time operation is twofold: to help you choose a backup type (system image, data files, or both), and then to help you build a schedule that will automate future backups. You can save one and only one collection of backup settings.

For your first backup, you can start from either of the following two locations:

  • Under the Maintenance heading in Action Center, click the Set Up Backup button.

  • In Control Panel, click Backup And Restore under the System And Security heading, and then click the Set Up Backup link, as shown in Figure 1.

Note: You can skip the initial setup if you simply want to create a one-time backup of your system volume (an excellent idea if you've just finished performing a clean installation with all your drivers and programs installed and ready to use). Click the Create A System Image link in the left pane.

The basic steps for performing a backup are simple and straightforward. You have to make some decisions first, which in turn dictate which tools you use and what actions you need to take.

Figure 1. Before you can perform your first backup, you're encouraged to set up a backup schedule using the Set Up Backup link here.

  1. Select a destination where your backup will be saved. The Set Up Backup dialog box, shown in Figure 2, lists all available destinations. Note that the system volume is not included in this list.

    Figure 2. The system volume is excluded from the list of available backup destinations, and network locations are available only on business editions of Windows 7.

    Your choices include the following:

    • A separate volume on the same internal hard drive that holds your system volume We strongly advise against this option, because in the event of a physical disk failure your backup files will be wiped out at the same time as the originals.

    • An external hard drive This is the simplest and best option. The external drive can connect to your PC via a USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, or eSATA cable. You can leave the drive permanently attached to your PC so that scheduled backups happen regularly, or you can unplug it after the backup is complete and then store it in a secure location such as a fireproof safe or a locked cabinet. For extremely valuable data, consider storing the backup drive offsite.

    • Removable media such as writable CDs or DVDs This option is available only if you are performing a one-time image backup; you can't define a scheduled backup using removable media. Windows Backup will prompt you to swap media as needed. This option is especially useful after you perform a clean installation and before you add any data files.

    • A shared network folder This option is available only on the business editions of Windows 7: Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. It's an excellent choice for file-based backups if another PC or server on your network has ample storage space. You'll need to enter credentials that the scheduled task can use to access the shared location, as shown here:

      As we note later in this chapter, using a network location to store system image backups has one major downside: you can store only the most recent image file per computer.

  2. Choose a backup type. The easy option is the first one shown here: Let Windows Choose (Recommended). This option is selected by default, and if you click Next without changing the selection, Windows will do the following: create a system image and save it in the location you specified earlier; back up all local files that are stored in libraries, on the desktop, and in default folders within all user profiles; and create a scheduled task to repeat the backup weekly.

    If you prefer to exercise fine-grained control over what gets backed up and when, select the second option, Let Me Choose, and then click Next. We'll describe these options in more detail in the following section.

  3. Create a backup schedule. By default, the Windows Backup program will run automatically, using the same settings you just saved, at 7:00 PM every Sunday night. If you prefer to back up more or less frequently or at a different time, click Change Schedule on the Review Your Backup Settings page to open the How Often Do You Want To Back Up window shown next.

    Your scheduling options are extremely limited (although you can manually edit the scheduled task if you want an option that isn't listed here). You can choose Daily, Weekly, or Monthly backups, picking a day of the week or a date each month and a fixed time when the automatic backups will take place. After the original full backup, updates to your backup set include only files that have changed since the last backup.

After the initial setup is complete, click Save Settings And Run Backup to perform the backup operation. While your backup is running, the Backup And Restore Control Panel displays its progress, as shown here:

While a backup is in progress, you can click View Details to see more information and to stop the backup.

1. Customizing a Backup

If you choose the default settings, you can be assured that all data files in all user profiles on your PC will be backed up, along with the contents of any local folder included in a library in any user profile. (Shared network folders in a library are never backed up.) If the backup destination has sufficient room, the backup will also include an image of the system drive.

If you want more granular control of exactly which files and folders are backed up, begin setting up a new backup and click Let Me Choose when you reach the What Do You Want To Back Up window. That opens a dialog box like the one shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Windows Backup normally backs up only libraries and user profiles, but you can choose specific locations for backup instead.

The customization options here are divided into two hierarchies. At the top of the list is the Data Files heading, which includes an entry for each existing user account. Clear the box to the left of any entry to remove all files from that user profile from the current backup settings. (You might want to do this if you've created an account that you use exclusively for testing and you're certain that none of the files it contains are worth preserving. If you've enabled the Guest account, you'll probably want to exclude it from backups as well.)

Although the entry for each account under the Data Files heading suggests that it includes only libraries, that description isn't entirely accurate. When you fully expand the list of available options for an entry in the Data Files list, you see a selection similar to the one shown here:

Every one of the libraries for the selected account, including the standard libraries created by Windows and any custom libraries you've created, is selected by default. You can skip one or more libraries by clearing the associated check box, but it's an all-or-nothing proposition: you can't choose to include some locations within a library and exclude others. You might want to skip backups for a specific library, especially if it's full of large files for which you have a separate backup strategy. If you're already synchronizing hundreds of gigabytes of files in the Music and Videos folders with another computer on your network, for example, you might leave those space-gobbling files out of your regular backup settings.

Inside Out: Use custom libraries for foolproof backups

Do you store important data files outside your user profile? Custom libraries can help you ensure that those files are always backed up. Create a new library, call it Backup, and make sure it's selected in your current backup settings. Add locations to the new library that you want to ensure are backed up. The files themselves remain in their original location, but as long as they're on a local drive they'll be backed up. If you remove a folder from the Backup library, it will no longer be backed up. Any new folder you add here, even if it's outside your user profile, will automatically be included in your next backup.

The entry just after the final library for each account in this list is Additional Locations. Click the arrow to its left to expand it, and you'll see that it includes the AppData folder for the selected account, which contains data files and settings that are typically created and managed by programs. Microsoft Outlook and Windows Live Mail, for example, store user data here; if this location isn't backed up, you risk losing all your e-mail messages and contacts in the event of a disk failure. Countless other programs from Microsoft and third-party software developers store user data here as well; one popular example is Mozilla Firefox, which stores user profiles and settings in a subfolder of AppData.

The other options under the Additional Locations heading represent the default folders from your user profile other than those already included in the standard libraries; Desktop, Downloads, and Favorites are included in Additional Locations, but not Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos, which are part of other libraries. Note that additional subfolders within your user profile folder (whether created by you or by a program) are not added to this list and thus will not be included by default in your backup settings.

The Computer tree at the bottom of this dialog box exists for those who prefer old-school backup programs that back up everything in designated locations. The list includes every local volume on an internal hard disk (removable drives are not included). You can select an entire drive or drill into each one to include and exclude specific folders and subfolders in your backup settings.

Inside Out: Future-proof your backup settings

When you're setting up a new general-purpose backup routine, we recommend that you leave the first option, Back Up Data For Newly Created Users, intact. Its purpose is to make sure that your backups will include libraries and data files for any new user accounts you create in the future. If you clear this check box, only the data files and locations you specify when you create your backup settings will be backed up. So when should you clear this box? If you've set up a regular backup routine specifically intended to back up only a single user's data files and some custom locations, you might want to avoid the prospect of having unwanted locations added to your backup sets later.

The final option in the What Do You Want To Back Up dialog box is an option to include a system image with your backup. You can save a system image automatically with each backup or use the techniques we describe later in this chapter to create a system image on demand.

Inside Out: What's not backed up?

Every file on your computer that matches the criteria you select is backed up, regardless of which user account it belongs to. But not every file is included in a file backup. Even if you select every box under the Data Files and Computer headings, Windows excludes some files. For starters, files stored on any disk formatted with the FAT or FAT32 file system are ignored; drives to be backed up must be formatted with NTFS. System files are excluded, as are program files and any files in the Recycle Bin. Temporary files are backed up only on drives that are larger than 1 GB in size.

2. Creating a System Image Backup

With a system image backup (previously known as a Complete PC Backup in Windows Vista), you can rebuild your computer from bare metal in the event of a catastrophic failure—or if you just want to start fresh. You don't need to install, update, and activate Windows, reinstall all your applications, and then configure your applications to work the way you like; instead, you boot into the Windows Recovery Environment, choose an image file to restore, and then complete the process by restoring from your latest file backup, which is likely to be more recent than the image. The image files that Windows Backup creates are largely hardware independent, which means that—with some limitations—you can restore your backup image to a new computer of a different brand and type without missing a beat.

As we noted earlier in this chapter, you can create a system image backup as part of your regularly scheduled backup routine. However, if your goal is to quickly create a complete copy of the contents of all drives that contain Windows system files, you can do so here without having to mess with backup settings. In the Backup And Restore Control Panel, click Create A System Image in the left pane and follow the prompts to select a backup destination. The disk space requirements for an image-based backup can be substantial. Windows will warn you if the destination you choose doesn't have sufficient free disk space.

When you create a system image backup, it stores the complete contents of all selected drives during its first backup. If the backup target is a local (internal or external) hard drive, subsequent backup operations store only new and changed data. Therefore, the subsequent, incremental backup operation typically runs much faster, depending upon how much data has been changed or added since the previous image backup operation. If you choose a shared network folder as the backup destination (using Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate), you can save only one image backup. Any subsequent image backup will wipe out the previous image backup.

Inside Out: Save multiple image backups on a network

If you specify a shared network folder as the destination for an image backup, beware of the consequences if you try to reuse that location for a subsequent backup of the same computer. If the backup operation fails for any reason, the older backup will be overwritten, but the newer backup will not be usable. In other words, you'll have no backup.

You can avoid this risk by creating a new subfolder in the shared network folder to hold each new image backup. The disadvantage, of course, is that each image file will occupy as much space as the original disk, unlike an incremental image backup on an external hard drive, which stores only the changed data.

If you have multiple hard drives, Windows displays a dialog box like the one shown in Figure 4, in which you choose the volumes you want to include in the backup. By default, any volume that contains Windows system files is selected. You can optionally choose to include other drives in the backup image as well.

Figure 4. Windows system volumes (indicated by the logo on the drive icon) must be included in a system image. Other volumes are optional.

After you confirm your settings, click Next and then click Start Backup to begin the process of building and saving your image.

System images are stored in virtual hard drive (.vhd) format. Although the data is not compressed, it is compact because the image file does not include the hard drive's unused space and some other unnecessary files, such as hibernation files, page files, and restore points. Incremental system image backups on a local drive are not written to a separate folder. Instead, new and updated files (actually, the changed blocks in those files) are written to the same .vhd file. The older blocks are stored as shadow copies in the .vhd file, allowing you to restore any previous version.

The final step of the image backup process offers to help you create a system repair disc on a writable CD or DVD. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this option; if you don't have a blank disc or don't want to take the minute or so to create the repair disc at this point, you can do so later using the link in the left pane of the Backup And Restore Control Panel.

3. Restoring Files from a Backup Set

Backing up is pointless if you never need to restore a file. You should be so lucky.

To restore one or more files, open the Backup And Restore Control Panel. If the file was backed up from a location within your user profile or one of your libraries, click Restore My Files. To restore files from another user's account or to select a different backup, you'll need to click one of the other links here and supply an administrator's credentials.

The Restore Files wizard is unlike other backup/restore programs you might have used in the past. The list starts out empty. You fill it by searching and browsing for files and folders to be restored. Using the Search button allows you to enter all or part of a file or folder name, and then add one or more items from the search results to your list. To add individual files, click Browse For Files and make one or more selections. Click Browse For Folders to select an entire folder and all its subfolders.

Repeat the search-browse-select process as many times as needed, adding files and folders until you've selected everything you want to restore. Figure 5 shows the Browse Or Search Your Backup For Files And Folders To Restore page of the Restore Files dialog box with a handful of items selected.

Figure 5. Use the three buttons to the right of this list to search or browse for files and folders to be restored from the most recent backup.

Click Next to specify the location where you want to restore the selected files. If you're simply recovering an accidentally deleted file, you'll want to restore it to its original location; if you want to sift through a group of recovered files before deciding which ones to keep, restore them to a new folder, as shown here.

4. Restoring a System Image Backup

The system image capabilities in Windows Backup are intended for creating an emergency recovery kit for a single PC. In that role, they function exceptionally well. If your hard drive fails catastrophically, or if you want to wipe your existing Windows installation and start with a clean image you created a few weeks or months earlier, you've come to the right place.

Your options (and potential gotchas) become more complex if you want to use these basic image backup and restore tools to work with a complex set of physical disks and partitions, especially if the disk layout has changed from the time you created the original image.

In this chapter, we assume that you have created an image backup of your system disk and you want to restore it to a system that is essentially the same (in terms of hardware and disk layout) as the one you started with. In that case, you can restart your computer using the system repair disc you created as part of the system image backup (or use the Windows 7 installation DVD and choose the Repair Your Computer option). Either route will lead you to the dialog box shown below. Select the second option to restore your computer using a system image.

Click Next to select the image backup to restore from. If you're restoring the most recent image backup to the same system on which it was originally created and the backup is stored on an external hard drive attached to the computer, your job is easy. The latest system image should be available for your selection. Verify that the date and time and other details of the image match the one you want to restore and then click Next to continue.

If the image file you're planning to restore from is on a network share or if you want to use a different image, choose Select A System Image and then click Next. You'll see a dialog box that lists additional image files available on local drives. Select the correct file, and click Next to select an image created on a specific date if more than one is available. If the image file you're looking for is on a shared network folder, click the Advanced button and then enter the network location and a user name and password that have authorized access to that account.

Restoring an image backup completely replaces the current contents of each volume in the image file. The restore program offers to format the disk or disks to which it is restoring before it begins the restore process; if you have multiple drives and/or volumes and you're nervous about wiping out valuable data files, it offers an option to exclude certain disks from formatting.

The important thing to recognize about restoring a system image is that it will replace the current contents of system volumes with the exact contents as they existed at the time of the image backup you select. That means that your Windows system files and registry will be returned to health (provided the system was in good shape when you performed your most recent backup and that no hardware-related issues have cropped up since then). Whatever programs were installed when you backed up your system will be restored entirely. All other files on the restored disk, including your documents, will also be returned to their prior states, and any changes made subsequent to your most recent backup will be lost.

Warning: If you keep your documents on the same volume as your system files, restoring a system image is likely to entail the loss of recent work—unless, of course, you have an up-to-date file backup or you have the good fortune to have made an image backup almost immediately before your current troubles began. The same is true if you save documents on a volume separate from your system files but you have included that data volume in your image backup. If you have documents that have not been backed up, you can avoid losing recent work by copying them to a disk that will not be affected by the restore process—a USB flash drive, for example, or some other form of I removable media. You can use the Command Prompt option in the Windows Recovery Environment to copy these documents.  If you do have a recent file I backup, you will be able to restore files after you have restored the image backup and I your system is running again.

Note: The main hardware limitation for restoring a system image backup is that the target computer must have at least as many hard drives as the source system, and each drive must be at least as big as its corresponding drive in the source system. This means, for example, that you can't restore a system image from a system that has a 500-GB hard drive to a system with a 320-GB hard drive, even if the original system had less than 100 GB of data on its drive. Keep in mind also that, on a system with multiple hard drives, the BIOS determines which one is the bootable drive, and this is the one on which Windows will restore the image of your system volume. (You have no choice in the matter, aside from reconnecting the drives or, if your BIOS permits it, selecting a different bootable drive.)If your new computer meets the space requirements, restoring a system image should work. This is true even when the source and target computers use different disk controllers, such as SCSI, PATA (IDE), or SATA. Similarly, other differences—such as different graphics cards, audio cards, processors, and so on—shouldn't prevent you from restoring a system image to a different computer. This is because hardware drivers are isolated from the rest of the image information and are rebuilt as part of the restore process.

5. Managing Saved Backups

The first time you back up files, Windows performs a complete backup of the files you specify. Subsequent scheduled backups are incremental backups, which include only new files and files that have changed. The incremental backups are stored separately from the original, complete backup, which means that—in the case of files that change—the backup set includes each file as it existed at the time of each backup. (A backup set comprises the original backup and all incremental backups.)

A file backup—like a system image backup—relies upon the Volume Shadow Copy Service to create a volume snapshot when a backup operation runs. This "point-in-time" image enables the backup program to reliably back up files that are open or in use and constantly changing, such as a .pst file for Microsoft Outlook data. The Volume Shadow Copy Service also keeps track of changes made between shadow copies. For more information, see "How Volume Shadow Copy Service Works" on the Microsoft TechNet site at

Backups are saved to the location you specify in a folder that has the same name as your computer. That folder contains a subfolder for each backup set; the set folder contains a subfolder for the original backup and each subsequent incremental backup, using a naming convention that includes the date and time when the backup was created. Within the backup folders, the archived files are saved in ordinary .zip files, each with a maximum size of 200 MB. This makes the data accessible even from a computer that's not running Windows 7; simply use the tool of your choice to browse the content of the .zip files. This storage method has another benefit: if you back up to removable media such as CDs and your backup spans several discs, even if one disc is damaged you can retrieve your data from all undamaged discs, thereby limiting the amount of lost data.

To see a summary of disk space in use by your current collection of backups, click Manage Space in the Backup And Restore Control Panel. The resulting display, like the one shown on the next page, shows how much disk space is in use on the current backup destination.

To see a full list of backed-up files by set, click View Backups. This dialog box allows you to delete a full set of backups from a specific period, including the initial backup and all incremental changes. Under the System Image heading, click Change Settings to remove all backed-up images or save the most recent image and delete all previous ones.


Your backup folders are "empty"

If you use Windows Explorer to browse to your backup folders, when you rest the mouse pointer over a folder name, the pop-up tip might identify it as an "Empty folder." Alarmed, you right-click the folder and choose Properties, only to find that the folder apparently contains 0 bytes, 0 files, and 0 folders. Don't worry. This is the normal condition when your backups are stored on an NTFS volume, because by default, only the System user account has permission to view the files. (That's a reasonable security and reliability precaution, which prevents you or another user from inadvertently deleting a key backup file.) If you're confident of your ability to work safely with backup files in their native format, the solution is simple: Double-click the folder name. Follow the prompts, including a User Account Control (UAC) consent dialog box, to permanently add your user account to the folder's permissions list, giving you Full Control access to the folder.

Top 10
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Adding Structure to Your Diagrams - Finding containers and lists in Visio (part 2) - Wireframes,Legends
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Adding Structure to Your Diagrams - Finding containers and lists in Visio (part 1) - Swimlanes
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Adding Structure to Your Diagrams - Formatting and sizing lists
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Adding Structure to Your Diagrams - Adding shapes to lists
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Adding Structure to Your Diagrams - Sizing containers
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Control Properties and Why to Use Them (part 3) - The Other Properties of a Control
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Control Properties and Why to Use Them (part 2) - The Data Properties of a Control
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Control Properties and Why to Use Them (part 1) - The Format Properties of a Control
- Microsoft Access 2010 : Form Properties and Why Should You Use Them - Working with the Properties Window
- Microsoft Visio 2013 : Using the Organization Chart Wizard with new data
Video Sports
programming4us programming4us