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Protecting Your Files in Windows 7

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Computer security is all about protecting your files. Fortunately, Microsoft provides many security and protection features in Windows 7. Eric Geier reviews the core features that provide protection for your files.
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Computer security is all about protecting your files. Fortunately, Microsoft provides many security and protection features in Windows 7. Many of these features are from previous versions of Windows, but some have been improved.

This article reviews Windows 7 core features that provide protection for your files. You'll see what each one does and how to get started.

System Protection with System Restore and Previous Versions

The System Protection feature of Windows 7 supports two very important operations: the backup of the Windows and system settings and the incremental backup of your personal documents and files.

The system settings are backed up to what Microsoft calls Restore Points, which we first saw in Windows XP. They are essentially snapshots of your computer settings, but they don't include any personal files such as documents or photos.

Restore Points are created at various times, such as when installing software or updates. Restore Points are there in case the system files get corrupted in some way. You can restore the computer to a certain Restore Point if you experience problems.

The System Restore utility in Windows Vista and 7 includes a feature that also covers you personally. You might see this feature referred to as Shadow Copy, Volume Snapshot Service, or Previous Versions. It performs backups of any personal documents and files you've changed since the last system Restore Point and keeps track of the changes.

Figure 1 shows an example of the Previous Versions dialog in Windows 7.

This feature can be useful, for example, if you found days later that you deleted something important from a Word document. Basically, Windows saves a copy of each version of a file. Just remember that these snapshots are taken only when a Restore Point is created.

The Previous Versions feature first appeared in Windows Vista and is available only in the Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. However, all variants of Windows 7 sport the feature.

To access the System Protection settings in either Windows Vista or 7, right-click the Computer shortcut on the Desktop or Start Menu and then select Properties. Then click the System Protection link in the left pane of the window.

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