Windows 7 : Creating Backups and Preparing for Problems (part 1) - Configuring System Protection

2/24/2011 1:21:44 PM
Windows 7 includes a number of backup features that can help safeguard your computer against disaster. The ones you’ll want to use are as follows:
System Protection

Used to back up the configuration and settings of your computer for easy restoration without having to reinstall the operating system

Previous Versions

Used to back up previous versions of files and folders so that you can easily recover your data

Automated Backup

Used to back up your personal data and optionally your system drives automatically so that you can recover it easily

System Image Backup

Used to back up your system drives and optionally your data drives so that you can recover the operating system from a backup image

None of these features is meant to be used in lieu of the other; you should configure and use all four backup features. As part of periodic maintenance, you should also regularly check the status of these features.

1. Configuring System Protection

You use System Protection to fix problems and undo changes to Windows. With System Protection enabled, your computer makes periodic snapshots of the system configuration. These snapshots are called restore points.

Restore points include Windows settings, device settings, and program settings. Restore points are intended to be used to recover your computer to the state it was in prior to performing a task that changed the configuration of the operating system, devices, or programs. If your computer has problems starting or isn’t working properly because of a configuration change, you can use a restore point to restore the computer to the point at which the snapshot was made. For example, suppose your computer is working fine until you install a security patch or a service pack. Although you uninstall the update, your computer still doesn’t work correctly, so you decide to use System Restore to restore the computer using a snapshot taken prior to the update.

System Protection can provide several different types of restore points. One type, System Checkpoint, is scheduled by the operating system and occurs at regular intervals. Another type of snapshot, Installation Restore Point, is created automatically based on events that the operating system triggers when you install applications. Other snapshots, known as Manual Restore Points, are ones you create manually. You should create a Manual Restore Point prior to performing any operation that might cause problems on your computer.

You can restore your computer when it is running in normal mode or safe mode. In normal mode, a restore point is created prior to restoration of the computer. But in safe mode, a restore point is not created, because changes you make in safe mode aren’t tracked and you can’t undo them using restore points. However, you can use safe mode to restore any previously created restore point.

You control how System Protection works using the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. System Protection saves system checkpoint information for all monitored drives and requires at least 300 MB of disk space on the System volume to save restore points. System Protection reserves additional space for restore points as necessary—up to 100 percent of the total disk capacity—but this additional space is always available for user and application storage. If System Protection needs to create a restore point and has no more allocated space, the operating system overwrites previously created restore points.

You can manage System Protection monitoring of your computer by completing these steps:

Figure 1. Checking the System Protection configuration

  1. Click→Control Panel→System and Security→System→System Protection in the left pane.

  2. System Protection is enabled on the System disk by default (see Figure 1). You should enable System Protection on all disks that store system, program, and personal files.

  3. To configure System Protection for a volume, select the volume in the Protection Settings list, and then click Configure. This displays the “System Protection for” dialog box, shown in Figure 2.

  4. If you are configuring System Protection for the System volume or a volume on which you’ve installed programs, choose the “Restore system settings and previous versions of files” option to keep copies of system settings and previous versions of files. This option ensures that you can restore the computer and programs and also recover previous versions of important data files.

  5. If you are configuring System Protection for a data volume choose the “Only restore previous versions of files” option to keep previous versions of files but not keep copies of system settings. This option ensures you can recover previous versions of important data files but doesn’t try to track system settings (which data volumes don’t have).

  6. If you don’t want the volume to use System Protection, choose the “Turn off system protection” option. This option turns off System Protection but is not recommended because you will not be able to restore the computer or recover previous versions of files.

  7. If you’ve enabled System Protection, you can use the Disk Space Usage slider to adjust the maximum disk space that System Protection can use. When the maximum size is reached, System Protection deletes older restore points to make room for new ones.

  8. When you are finished making configuration changes, click OK to the return to the System Properties dialog box. Repeat steps 5–9 to configure other volumes.

Figure 2. Configuring System Protection

You can create a manual restore point for all drives that have system protection turned on by following these steps:

  1. Click Start→Control Panel→System and Security→System→System Protection in the left pane→Create.

  2. Enter a description for the restore point and then click Create.

  3. When your computer finishes creating the restore point, click OK.

  •  Windows 7 : Detecting and Resolving Computer Problems (part 3) - Resolving Problems with System Services
  •  Windows 7 : Detecting and Resolving Computer Problems (part 2) - Tracking Errors in the Event Logs
  •  Windows 7 : Detecting and Resolving Computer Problems (part 1) - Solving the Tough Problems Automatically
  •  Windows 7 : Scheduling Maintenance Tasks
  •  Windows Server 2008: DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Exploring Global Catalog Domain Controller Placement
  •  Windows Server 2008: DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Planning, Migrating, and Maintaining WINS
  •  Windows Server 2008 : DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Installing and Configuring WINS
  •  Windows Server 2008 : DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Reviewing the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS)
  •  Windows Server 2008 : DHCP/WINS/Domain Controllers - Securing DHCP
  •  Windows 7 : General Maintenance Tools (part 3) - Checking Your Disks for Errors & Optimizing Disk Performance
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