Create a Bullet Proof Backup Plan for Windows Vista

Don’t take a chance with your precious data. Protect your files with a solid backup strategy in Windows Vista.

Computers have become a very important part of our lives. We use them to work, pay bills, play, communicate, store our memories, and much more.

I see people who loose precious data almost every day. They lose saved passwords, documents, pictures, video, and much more. Most of the time the data loss could have easily been prevented.

This guide explains the proper way to keep your Windows Vista computer backed up encase the unthinkable happens.

Available Backup Technologies

Here’s a list of available backup technologies available in Windows Vista. Some technologies may not be available on all versions of Vista.

  • Windows Complete PC Backup: An exact copy of your entire hard drive including programs, files, and settings. This is only available for Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions.
  • File Backup and Restore: Backs up pretty much everything but Windows and your programs. All of your documents will be backed up. This is available on most versions of Vista including all home versions.
  • Shadow Copy: A quick and easy way to restore backed up files by all Windows Vista backup technologies. This is available on most versions of Vista including both home versions.
  • System Restore: A cross between Complete PC Backup and File Backup and Restore that only backs up your system files. This is enabled by default on all versions of Vista.

Create a Bullet Proof Backup Plan

Everyone uses their computers differently. Here is a generic backup plan. Change it to fit your needs.

Backup Media

Your backups shouldn’t be saved on the same hard drive as the media being backed up. If the hard drive crashes so does your backup. You should use a separate hard drive, USB/FireWire attached hard drive (my favorite), tape drive, NAS device, or CD/DVDs to save your backups. Ideally your backup media should be 3 or more times larger than the media you’re backing up.

Backup Type and Frequency

Windows Vista automatically creates a System Restore Point every time your computer boots up and before software or drivers are installed. Before you change any major settings (the registry for example) you should manually create a system restore point to be safe.

You should setup File Backup and Restore to backup all of your files from once a day to once a week depending on how often you edit files and how much backup space you have available. It’s a good idea to manually backup your files and save them on a CD/DVD for safe keeping in a different location as the computer.

If you’re running Windows Vista Ultimate, Business, or Enterprise you should create a Complete PC Backup every month or so. You can automate Complete PC Backup here. I would also manually create a Complete PC Backup and save it on DVD to be stored in a different location as the computer.

How-to Recover Backed Up Data

Data Loss

When recovering data you should try File Shadow first and a restore from a previous Complete PC Backup should be the last resort.

System Crash

If Windows crashes you should use System Restore to try and fix it first. If that doesn’t work, and a computer technician can’t fix it, a Complete PC Backup might have to be used if one is available. A Complete PC Backup should only be restored as a last resort.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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