How to Backup your Data and System

When backing up your data, you will need some offline storage device such as one or more of:

  • Tape Storage Device.
  • Zip drive.
  • Writeable CD ROM or DVD drive.

Items to back up

You should remember when doing a backup that there are several items that you should back up. They include:

  • File Data
  • Mail Data
  • Web site favorites
  • Possibly your desktop (Some people save their files on their desktop)

These instructions do not cover backing up program files but most of those files are in the directory “C:\Program Files\”.

Data Locations

Most user data is in the user folder and subfolders in the path C:\Documents and Settings\username\ and backing up this complete file should get most items in many cases. You should be aware of where your data is stored and review these locations before backing up your data. Also some folders that your data is stored in are hidden folders so you may need to change your settings so you can see hidden files and folders. The page How to Configure your Windows System to Show File Extensions All the Time shows how to change these settings.

If you store your files in “My Documents” which is the default Windows location you can normally find the folder in “C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents” where “username” is the login identifier you login to the system with. If you do not login, you probably have a default user set up. You should open your Control Panel “Users and Passwords” applet to determine your settings and possible user name. Normally your data is stored on your C: drive but depending on how your system is configured, it may be on another drive.

Finding Mail Files

Once you determine where your data files are stored, you should determine where your email files are stored so you can back your email up also. If you are using Outlook Express, you can find where these files are by right clicking on your inbox and selecting “Properties”. My mail is in C:\Documents and Settings\mzehner\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{8A55F04D-3082-4348-8750-0831C6E3FD39}\Microsoft\Outlook Express\Inbox.dbx. All files in the folder the inbox is stored in should be backed up.

If you are using Outlook, your files are normally stored in a file of type .pst. On my system it is in the folder C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\ where Username is the name I login with.

Make Backup Selections

  1. Click on the “Start” button on the lower left side of the screen.
  2. From the submenu that appears, select “Accessories”. (Note: If the specified selection is not present, click on the double down arrow on the menu and it will appear.)
  3. From the submenu that appears, select “System Tools”.
  4. From the submenu that appears, select “Backup”.
  5. The Backup tool dialog box will appear as shown below.
  6. Click the “Backup” tab and select your data based on where your data is located. The following directories are ones in the user folder you should consider backing up:
    • Application Data – Contains application data for Adobe programs, Real player, Microsoft programs, and other programs.
    • Cookies – Contains your cookies.
    • Desktop – Contains your desktop shortcuts and files on your desktop.
    • Favorites – Your favorite websites.
    • Local Settings – Contains internet history, temporary internet files, and settings for some applications including Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and other applications.
    • My Documents – Where documents are stored by default.
  7. Select other important items to back up:
    • System State
    • On each drive select “System Volume Information”.
  8. Select where you want to store your backup by clicking the “Browse” button at the bottom of the dialog box, then navigate to the device and disk drive you want to back up your data onto.
  9. Type the name of the file you want to back your data up to such as backupmm-dd-yy.bkf where mm-dd-yy indicate the date of the backup.
  10. Once you have made all your selections, click the “Start Backup” button. A Backup Job Information Dialog box will appear.
  11. Select whether you want to append your data from a previous backup. If you have selected a file that had a previous backup, you may want to select “Append this backup to the media”. Otherwise select “Replace the data on the media with this backup”.
  12. Another option you can select is a checkbox on the lower left which will only allow the administrator and owner of the data to accesss the data.
  13. Click the “Advanced” button to bring up the “Advanced Backup Options” dialog box.
  14. Be sure “Automatically backup system Protected Files with the System State” is selected and select “Verify data after backup”.
  15. Leave the backup type set to normal. An incremental or differential backup will only save information that was changed since the last backup. An incremental backup will indicate the data was backed up by clearing the file archive bit while a differential backup will not.
  16. Click OK
  17. Note that you can schedule regular backups by clicking on the “Schedule” button.
  18. Click “Start Backup”. The backup progress will be shown in a dialog box.
  19. When the backup is complete, you can view the backup report or click “close” to close the “Backup Progress” dialog box.
  20. Exit the Backup utility by clicking on the “x” in the upper right hand corner and your backup is complete.