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Backing Up Your Windows PC



Windows Vista and Windows 7 are both great operating systems with some features that are undiscovered by many of their users. In this edition of Tech Helpline’s Lifeline, we explore the options you have as a Windows Vista or Windows 7 user to back up your computer and files.

Complete PC Backup

If you own Windows Vista Business, Ultimate or Windows 7 Home Premium, you have access to the ability to completely back up your computer in case of a catastrophic hard drive crash or powerful virus. This is the best form of backup and all it requires is an external hard drive and time to set aside to start the process.

In Windows Vista Business and Ultimate:
Click the Start button on the lower left-hand corner. Type in “Backup” but do not press enter. Look for “Backup Status and Configuration” to appear in the search list and click on that. Click on “Complete PC Backup.” Click “Create a backup now” and follow the prompts to select the external device (external hard drive, usually) onto which you’d like to back up your computer. You will be asked which drive to back up.; usually this is the “C:” drive.

In Windows 7:
Click the Start button on the lower left-hand corner. Type in “Backup” but do not press enter. Look for “Back up your computer” to appear in the search list and click on that. Click on “Create a system image.” Select the external device (external hard drive, usually) to which you will be backing up your computer. You will be asked which drive to back up; usually this is the “C:” drive.

The process may take an hour or more. The Complete PC backup is for major backups. Follow with regular backups as instructed below to have the latest inventory of your more important files backed up while using the complete backup as a good starting point to recover from in case of a crash.


Windows Vista and 7’s built-in backup features

Windows Vista and 7 hold the tools to also periodically back up your more important files on a regular schedule. This process is rather quick and painless. Being that this exists in windows itself, you can use this process on any computer manufactured in the last four years with Windows on it.

In Windows Vista:
Click the Start button on the lower left-hand corner. Type in “Backup” but do not press enter. Look for “Backup Status and Configuration” to appear in the search list and click on that then click on “Back Up Files”. Click “Set up automatic file backup” and follow the prompts to select the external device (external hard drive or USB Flash drive, typically) to which you would like to back up your files. You will then be presented with options for which files you would like to back up.

In Windows 7:
Click the Start button on the lower left-hand corner. Type in “Backup” but do not press enter. Look for “Back up your computer” to appear in the search list and click on that and then click on “Set up backup”. Select the external device (external hard drive or USB Flash drive, typically) to which you will be backing up your files. You will then be presented with options for which files you would like to back up, including allowing Windows to choose for you (recommended).


Backing up a computer is essential for keeping your valuable documents, photos and records around. Just a few minutes of your time can save you from unnecessary stress, anxiety, and in the case of businesses, lost revenue.

Contributions to this article were made by Allen Williams, Tech Helpline Technical Analyst


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