Written by Barry Dysert (last updated April 30, 2018)
You've probably heard stories of people losing files because of accidental deletion, a computer virus, or a system crash. Inevitably, the first advice offered to the victim is to restore the lost files from a backup. Unfortunately, the story usually ends with the victim confessing to not having made any backups.
Performing regular system backups should be considered an essential system management task. That way, should you ever need to recover files, it's just a matter of restoring them from the backup. Backups can be done manually or automatically. (Configuring automatic backups is covered under another tip.) You can start the process by displaying the Control Panel. Your next step depends on the version of Windows you are using:
Figure 1. The Backup and Restore (Windows 7) dialog box.
You first need to indicate where you want your backup to reside. Click the Change Settings link near the middle of the dialog box. The Backup wizard starts, which allows you to select the location that should hold your backup and to designate what files get backed up. After these selections have been made, click the wizard's Save Settings and Run Backup option to end the wizard and start the backup.
Remember that it is a good idea to specify a location for your backups that is different from the drive (or drives) you are backing up. With the low-cost availability of external hard drives these days, you may even want to invest in an external drive for backups.
This tip (12263) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.
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