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Performing a File and Folder Backup

File and Folder Backup is available in all editions of Windows Vista. File and Folder Backup backs up data files of various types (pictures, music, videos, e-mail, documents, TV shows, compressed files, and additional files, such as file extensions not recognized by Windows), but not applications or Windows system files. File and Folder Backup (also known as Back Up Files) works only on drives using the NTFS file system, but does not back up files encrypted using the encrypted file system (EFS).

After you perform the first File and Folder Backup, subsequent backups take place on a weekly schedule. To start your first file and folder backup, connect your backup drive, open the Backup and Restore Center, and click Back Up Files. On the Where Do You Want to Save Your Backup? dialog, click the On a Hard Disk, CD, or DVD radio button. Select your backup hard disk from the pull-down menu (Figure 3) and click Next to continue.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Confirming the destination drive for File and Folder Backup.

By default, all file types you can back up are selected (Figure 4). To back up all supported file types, click Next to continue (you can also customize your backup by clearing checkboxes before clicking Next).

Figure 4

Figure 4 Selecting file types to back up with File and Folder Backup.

On the next dialog, review the default weekly backup schedule and, if desired, change the frequency, day of week, and start time. Click Save Settings and Start Backup (Figure 5) to begin the backup process.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Specifying when to create automatic backups.

First, File and Folder Backup creates a shadow copy of any open data files, and then it backs up all specified file types. At the end of the process, a message indicates the backup is complete. Close the backup window.

File and Folder Backup stores backups using the industry-standard .zip format, rather than a proprietary file format.

Swapping Hard Disks

Assume the worst-case scenario: your hard disk fails—completely. Replace the hard disk with the same size hard disk—or larger. For this article, I replaced a 40GB hard disk (partitioned into a 20GB Windows Vista volume with 20GB unallocated) with a 160GB hard disk fresh from the factory packaging.

You could also use a hard disk with existing partitions, but you would need to remove the partitions by overwriting the disk with zeros using a vendor-supplied disk utility or by using the diskpart utility from the Command Prompt mode in Windows RE (Recovery Environment). To remove all partitions and other information from a hard disk, you can use the command-line diskpart tool after opening the Command Prompt from the Windows RE menu (refer to Figure 6). For more information about using diskpart, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 927520.

Figure 6

Figure 6 The Windows RE System Recovery Options menu includes access to the command prompt, enabling you to run tools such as diskpart.

If you replace one PATA (ATA/IDE) drive with another, make sure the replacement drive’s configuration jumpers are set to match the original drive’s setting—Master, Slave, or Cable Select (both drives in Figure 7 are Maxtor drives; other brands use different jumper settings).

Figure 7

Figure 7 The Cable Select setting on original and replacement hard disks.

If you replace a PATA drive with an SATA (Serial ATA) drive, or an SATA drive with another SATA drive, the SATA drives don’t need jumper blocks. However, you might need to enable the SATA host adapter in your system through the system BIOS setup program (see your system or motherboard documentation for details).

Start the system BIOS setup program, detect the new drive (Figure 8), and save changes before restarting the system.

Figure 8

Figure 8 Detecting the replacement hard disk in the system BIOS setup program.

Booting Your System with Windows RE

When you restart the system, you need to run the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). Insert your Windows Vista DVD or Windows RE disc, and press a key to boot from the DVD. On the opening dialog, select the language, time, and currency formats, and the keyboard or input method, and click Next to continue. On the Install Windows dialog, click Repair Your Computer.

On the System Recovery Options dialog, click Next (there is no operating system to recover, because you are now using an empty hard disk).

Running Complete PC Restore

From the System Recovery Options dialog, select Windows Complete PC Restore (Figure 9).

Figure 9

Figure 9 The Windows RE System Recovery Options.

The opening menu preselects the most recent backup for you. Click Next to restore this backup. To restore an earlier backup, select Restore a Different Backup, click Next, and select the backup restored. In this example, I selected the most recent backup.

The next dialog lists the date, time, computer, and drive information stored in the backup. If you are installing to an empty hard disk, the option to Format and Repartition Disks is automatically enabled (Figure 10).

Figure 10

Figure 10 Preparing to restore an image backup.

To restore the backup, click Finish. After the restore process is complete, a notification appears on-screen. Restart the system. You have restored your system to its condition as of the last Windows Complete PC Backup.

Resizing Your System Drive with Disk Management

If you replaced a crashed drive with a same-size drive (or you reused your existing drive), you’re ready to restore your data files and get completely back to work. However, if you replaced your hard disk with a larger model and used the option to repartition and reformat the drive (as in this example), you might want to extend your Windows partition to use more (or all) of the new hard disk. Vista x64 Forums offers a visual tutorial on extending your system drive (volume) into unallocated space; see the section "To Extend a Partition."

Restoring Files

To restore your data files, make sure your backup drive is connected and turned on, then open the Backup and Restore Center. Click the Advanced Restore link (refer to Figure 11), then click Advanced Restore from the Backup Status and Configuration dialog.

Figure 11

Figure 11 Preparing to perform an advanced restore of data files.

On the What Do You Want to Restore? dialog, click Next; the option to restore files from a different computer is already selected. Click the Hard disk, CD, or DVD radio button, and select your backup drive. Click Next. Select the most recent backup set to restore, and click Next (Figure 12).

Figure 12

Figure 12 Preparing to restore the most recent file/folder backup.

On the next dialog, verify that the backup is the one you want to restore, and click Next. To restore everything in the backup, make sure the Restore Everything box is checked. Click Next. Click Start Restore, and your files will be restored to their original locations.

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