Windows 7 computer backup and restore
The documents on your Windows 7 computer are important to you, especially your digital photos and home movies. In the days of film you could always get another print made from the negative. Now we’re in the digital era, if the original file is lost or damaged that priceless picture may be lost forever. I'm here to help you back up the important files on your computer so you're protected from power outages, mouse slips and storage problems.
Windows 7 comes equipped with a powerful backup program built into the Operating System. It will help you to make simple, automated backups of all your files to an external hard drive or USB memory stick in just a few easy steps. It also allows you to manage the backup data you create, and restore any or all of the files from a backup to your computer.
Backup to USB drive or external hard disk drive
First of all, plug your storage media into the computer's USB port and wait for the computer to install the drivers (you can see when this has happened by watching the notifications pane in the bottom right hand corner of the screen).
- To open the backup program, click on the Windows Start button > click Control Panel
- If your view shows categories, look in the 'System and Security' category for the link that says 'Back up your computer'. If your view has lots of rows of icons, click 'Backup and Restore'
- Click the link on the right hand side that says 'Set up backup'. You will then be asked where you want to save your backup data. You should see the drive that you plugged in earlier. (Below you'll see it as 'Expansion Drive G:') Click on the line to highlight the drive, and click 'Next'
The next screen asks you what you want to backup. The default option is to let Windows choose, and this is sufficient for most home users – it will save all the data in the standard libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos) the Desktop and default Windows folders, for all user accounts on the computer. Click 'Next' to continue, and in a couple of clicks you'll start running your first backup.
Setting up an automatic data backup on your computer
You will now have a screen in front of you with a summary of the backup settings. By default, the first backup you run will set up a schedule, to automate the process to happen at 7pm every Sunday evening (as long as the backup drive used is plugged in).
If you don’t want this to happen, or would prefer to set up a different backup schedule, then click 'change schedule'. Untick the box to prevent scheduling, or change the dropdown boxes to alter the time and date settings, then click 'OK' to return to the summary screen.
Finished setting up your automatic backups?
Finally, click Save settings and run backup, and the next screen shows it progressing.
How do I choose specific files to backup on a Windows 7 computer?
That takes care of the straightforward Windows-managed backup. If you need to back up specific files or folders that are not in the standard locations listed earlier, you will need to follow the initial steps above, then when you reach step 4, select 'Let me choose' to prompt your computer to ask what should be backed up. You can now select exactly which libraries and folders you want to back up.
What is a system image and why should I save one?
When backing up your files on a Windows 7 PC, you'll have the option to include a system image. This is not strictly necessary, and will take a lot of space, so you may wish to untick that particular box. Automated Windows-controlled backups include this on the first backup, and every fifth one after that. It basically takes a snapshot of your current PC setup, so if you have to restore it to default you don't lose your preferences.
So that’s the Windows 7 backup process completed. Compact, easy to use and as straightforward or complex as you choose to make it. Once the backup has finished, you will notice that the main 'Backup and Restore' window has changed.
You can see the space available to you on the drive, the date of the last backup (and if on a schedule, the next due date and time) and also what is being backed up. There is a link to 'Change settings' if you wish to. You will also notice a button at the top right to 'Back up now'. If your backup drive is plugged in, you can click this to perform a backup at any time.
Manage your Windows 7 backups
If you are doing a Windows computer backup as a one-off event, perhaps before reformatting your computer or sending it away for repair, then this section won’t really apply. For everyone else, managing the backups you make is important. In Windows 7 each backup made is a complete set of folders, and can soon take up a large portion of the available space on the backup drive. Clicking 'Manage space' allows you to administer these backups.
There is also a button to allow you to 'View backups'. This opens a window showing you all backups, and you can highlight and delete old backups to make more room on the drive if you are running short of space. Once deleted, however, these will be unrecoverable, so be careful to delete only those you no longer need.
Restore a backup on your Windows 7 PC
We’ve looked at backing up files, and also how to manage the space on your backup drive. Finally, we need to look at how to restore files from the backup drive to your computer.
- On the main 'Backup and Restore' window, there is a 'Restore my files' button
- The next screen allows you to select your chosen files or folders, either by searching for a specific file name, or by browsing through the backups to find the file or folder that you want
- Click 'Browse for folders', select your backup source, then pick the folder you wish to restore, and click 'Add folder'. Further files and folders can be added by the same method
- When all the selections are made, click 'Next' to see a confirmation screen and choose to restore your data either to the original location (the default, and usual selection), or to another location of your choice.
- Click 'Restore' to complete the process, and restore your chosen files to your PC
Backing up your files is not difficult, but it is important. If you need to speak to an Agent about this or any other matter, please call us anytime on 0800 049 3048. We’re here to help, 24/7.