Windows 7 Backup and Restore Utility: Part 1 – How To Backup Files in Windows 7

The Backup and Restore utility in Windows 7 provides a method for backing up your work to a separate location, such as a flash drive or an external hard drivePart 1 of this series guides you thru the basic method of backing up your personal data.

Setting up a Windows 7 Backup

To open up the Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility in Windows 7, browse to the Control Panel and select either Backup and Restore or Back up your computer.
HowToBackupFilesInW7-01-OpenBackup HowToBackupFilesInW7-02-Setup

In the Back up or restore your files window, click the link Set up backup.
The Windows Backup utility will start.
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Windows will provide a list of drives available for storing the backup.  Select an external location to store your backups, such as an external hard drive or flash drive, then select Next.
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You can have Windows choose what to backup or you can choose the files and directories.
Select Let Windows choose (recommended).
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By selecting Let Windows Choose, default user folders for All users should get backed up as shown here in Review your backup settings.  While this tends to make the backups somewhat larger, if you are unfamiliar with backups, and want a simple, reliable backup, this default will grab all files you save in the Library and Documents folders. 

If you want to change or disable the backup schedule, select Change Schedule.
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Here you can disable the schedule or schedule the day and time the backup will occur.
Once you set your schedule, select OK.
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Select Save settings and run backup.  This will insure your first backup is completed.
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The first backup will run immediately.
Once the backup is complete you can close Backup and Restore.
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Missing a Scheduled Backup

If you remove the external device (the external hard drive or flash drive) that you are using to back up your files, you will see an error in your backup software:  Windows cannot find the disk or network location where your backups are being saved.  Your backup will fail until you reconnect the external disk.
 HowToBackupFilesInW7-12-CheckBackupSettings 

References

Video: Backing up and restoring your computer
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/help/videos/backing-up-and-restoring-your-computer

Back up your files
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/back-up-your-files

Restore files from a backup
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/restore-files-from-a-backup

Restore your computer from a system image backup
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/restore-your-computer-from-a-system-image-backup 

Back up and restore: frequently asked questions
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/back-up-and-restore-frequently-asked-questions