Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Backup Data in Windows 7

Happening on a day where the Writer's Block Was Strong, Luke, Blogger informed me that it was closed until it could recover some lost files.

Interesting way to give someone something to write about, but it does raise some questions.

How many people reading this backup your files on a regular basis?

I do, but I also do it on an irregular schedule.  I'll be backing up the machine that I'm writing this on overnight tonight.  I have another machine that I use infrequently that will get backed up next time I turn it on.  I trust the hard drives I have in all three, they're all "new".

You can back up the data to a server in the house, but that implies that you want the headache of having a second or third computer in the house that is set up to do that, get the networking down, and then have the discipline to set up a regular backup or even an occasional irregular one.

When your computer locks up, and even Windows 7 or Mac OSX lock up from time to time, we all have that momentary heart flutter that says "is my data safe?".  I doubt it.

What I do is I have decided that I keep redundant copies of the most important data.  My financial information is stored on a Memory Stick that I back up every week.  Plug the stick into the computer and copy it all off the hard drive.

I have a couple old hard drives that I have scavenged from computers and I put them in a case.  The case can sell for as little as $4 online and will plug into your USB port.   Four screws to hold the thing down, two to seal the case. Plug the thing in and tell your operating system that it will be an external drive.  Then do your backup.  It should be as large as your largest PC.

If you don't have an old PC around for you to take the old hard drive out of, then you can find a 2TB drive online for around $90 to do the deal.

It isn't as complex as it sounds.  Plug it in, turn it on and it's there.  Follow the prompts if it hasn't been formatted.

For Windows 7, The Backup Procedure is  pretty straightforward.

1) Start Button

2) Control Panel

3) Backup And Restore

4) In my case, I had removed the hard drive that I did my last backup on so I had to click "change settings" and wait for the program to launch.

5) Find and then plug in the external hard drive to backup the data to.

6) I then told Windows to refresh by clicking on the handy "refresh" button.

7) Select the external hard drive it found.

8) The next window asks what to back up.  Being that Manual Kind Of Guy, I selected Let Me Choose, then I clicked Next.

9) Data Files - All that showed up.

10) Select all drives that you have inside your computer.   At least the C Drive.

11) Check the box that says "Include a system image of drives:"  It will help you recover if your machine ever goes splat.

12) Click Next and review the information.  This is what windows will start doing for your backup.  If you missed something, click Cancel.

13) Click Save Settings and run Backup.

In my case it immediately ran, but you can also set up a schedule to do this sort of thing automatically.  I guess it is going to happen NOW instead of overnight. 

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