Issue: Backing up data on a Windows XP System
Knowing how to back up your data is an important procedure that can help you recover photos, music and potentially hundreds of hours of work in case of a serious PC failure or malfunction. Power loss, power spikes, hard drive failure, failing circuitry, your kids, viruses and many other issues can result in a loss of data on a PC.
This article will cover the basic steps of creating a backup on Windows XP, using the Built-in Backup utility, also known as NTBackup.
XP Pro has NTBackup installed by default. To use NTBackup for XP Home, you need to install it using these steps:
- Insert your Windows XP Home CD.
- Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP folder.
- Double-click the ntbackup.msi file to install NTBackup.
- You are now ready to use the XP Backup utility
Note: You can click on any image to view it full size in a new window.
To access the built-in Backup utility (NTBackup) from within XP Pro:
Select – Start > Accessories > System Tools > Backup
To proceed with the Backup or Restore Wizard, select next
From Backup or Restore, select Back up files and settings
Selecting What to Back Up
- My documents and settings
This selection back ups your data files including e-mail messages, address books, Internet Explorer Favorites, your Desktop and your personal settings. If the space available for backing up is limited, this is a solid option to insure you have backed up the bulk of your data.
What can this option miss? Some software programs don’t store the data it creates in the user profiles area. If a product stores its data or important settings in its program folder or elswhere, this option will not capture that data.
- Everyones documents and settings
As this option indicates, this selection back ups all user profiles data files including e-mail messages, address books, Internet Explorer Favorites, your Desktop and your personal settings. Use this option if you have more than one active user account on the system and want to make sure the bulk of the data is backed up.
What can this option miss? As stated above, some software programs don’t store the data it creates in the user profiles area. If a product stores its data or important settings in its program folder or elswhere, this option will not capture that data.
- All information on this computer
This option includes all data on the computer and creates a system recovery disk that can be used to restore Windows in the case of a major failure. Selecting All information on this computer is the most comprehensive choice, but will also require a lot of available space to store the resulting backup file.
Note: I have not backed up or restored with this option and I don’t actually know if this option creates a full functional ‘bare metal’ backup. The inclusion of the step to create a ‘System recovery disk’ would lead me to believe that it may. However, I have been using Acronis True Image and Robocopy for my personal backups for many years, and therefore have never needed to dig that deep into it.
- Let me choose what to back up
If you know that you have files to backup that are not saved under your profile or within the documents and settings folder, then this option will allow the flexibility to select items for backup.
For this example, I have selected Let me choose what to back up, this will allow us to dig a bit more into the backup interface and the available choices.
From here you can simply expand the available options to make backup selections.
- Your Computer – The first available option is your computer (shown in the image as WS-Acer-VM). If expanded, you will see all fixed drives, all mapped drives, and System State. This option presents the full range of choices available for backing up your data.
- My Documents – Similar to the My documents and settings option explained above, this selection back ups your data files including e-mail messages, address books, Internet Explorer Favorites, and your Desktop .
- My Network Places – Expand My Network Places and you will see your mapped drives and other network locations such as available domains or workgroups.
In this example I made the following selections:
- I’ve expanded my computer (WS-Acer-VM), and selected System State
- I’ve also selected My Documents
Under Backup Type, Destination and Name, you choose a place to save the backup file and also name the file that will be created by the backup.
The destination really needs to be an external hard drive, a networked drive, or some other physical location other than your own hard drive. While it is possible to create backup jobs that will reside on your hard drive, it defeats one of the primary benefits of doing a backup, which is to have your data on physical media other than your hard drive. Should your hard drive fail in any way, any backups on that drive may be gone or damaged with the drive.
Under Type a name for this backup, you can name the backup so that it provides some indication of its purpose, I am naming mine Weekly Backup.
Under Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard, select Advanced. This will give us a couple of additional backup options, such as automating the backup so that it will run on a regular schedule
Under Type of Backup, select Normal
Normal will back up all files that have been selected. The other backup types have caveats that are currently beyond the scope of this article.
Under How to Back Up, you may have up to 3 additional options available to you. If you are new to back ups, the only one I would consider is Verify data after backup. However, be aware that it will effectively double the length of time it takes to run a backup.
- Append – Selecting Append adds files to your current backup. Appending a backup means the backup file will grow in size. Depending on the amount of data you are backing up and the size of your backup media, just a few appended backups could fill up your media .
- Replace – Selecting Replace will overwrite an existing backup file. This helps manage available space on your media.
Notes: Media refers to the device where you backup your data. In the enterprise, media can include devices such as tape libraries or SANs (Storage Attached Network). In a smaller setting, external hard drives and thumb drives are two common and reliable methods for storing backups.
To avoid running out of space on your media, a typical backup plan will include a rotation schedule that replaces older backups at some point.
Under When to Back Up, select Later. You can now set a schedule so your backup will occur on a recurring basis.
Under Job name, I’ve called my job Weekly Backup – Full. Normal, the option selected earlier under Type of Backup indicates all files that I have selected will be fully backed up each time this job is scheduled to run.
Select Set Schedule
Under Schedule Job:
Schedule Task: Set the task to run Weekly
Start Time: Select a time when the PC will be on
Schedule Task Weekly: Select which day of the week it will run
Set Account Information: You will need to provide a user name and password that has the backup rights on the PC
Back at the When to Back Up window, Select Next
Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard
This window provides an overview of your selected options, you can confirm details of the backup, such as where your backup will be created, and when it is scheduled to run.
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