Beginning with Windows 2000, the Windows operating systems include a system backup utility that allows you to perform a system backup, which is called system state data. System state data includes files that are critical in allowing Windows to load. This type backup includes files necessary to boot Windows, the registry and all system files. It also contains information about application and includes files in the Windows folders, made possible through COM+ Registration Database.
How to Perform the System Backup
To perform a system state backup click Start, All Programs, Backup. On the Backup Utility window, click the Backup tab. Check the System State box in the list of items that you are able to backup. Click Browse to point to where you want the backup saved. You can back up to a folder on the hard drive, USB drive, tape or network drive. Click Start Backup.
If the registry becomes corrupted or Windows gives errors, you can restore the system to the state it was in by using the system state backup. You would use the same backup utility but choose Restore and Manage Media instead of the backup option. You would then select the backup you want to restore and select the location where the backup is to be restored. To restore the system state, you will want to select Original location. Click the Start Restore button. You can use the Backup utility to restore if you are able to boot to the Windows desktop; if you cannot boot to the desktop, you will use other methods to restore the system state.
System Backup Using Complete PC
With Windows Vista and 7 you can back up an entire hard drive using Windows Complete PC Backup or Windows XP Automated System Recovery. A Complete PC backup makes a system backup of the entire volume on which the Windows operating system is installed and you can backup other volumes. This backup works about the same as recovery CDs or DVDs that come with some computers.
The Complete PC backup must be saved to a device such as an external hard drive or DVDs; don’t back up the volume to another partition on the same hard drive. After the initial backup is made, it will automatically make incremental backups. To create the initial Complete PC Backup the steps are as following:
1. Connect an external hard drive or USB drive to your PC.
2. From control panel, under System and Maintenance, click Back up your computer.
3. Click Back up computer; the operating system searches for available backup devices and then displays those. Select the backup media and click Next.
4. You will then see the volume that the tool will back up and you have the chance to select other volumes to include in the backup. Click Next.
5. The backup then tells you the maximum amount of space that the is expected to be needed or if you are backing up to DVDs, how many are required. Click Start backup to begin the backup.
System Backup -Automated System Recovery
You can use the Windows XP Automated System Recovery tool to backup the whole volume that Windows XP on which it is installed. If Windows later becomes corrupted you can recover the system from the last ASR backup; however, understand that everything on the volume since the ASR backup was made is lost, including device drivers, installed software, user data, and any changes to the system configuration. For that reason, you may wish to perform ASR backups often.
The ASR backup process creates a full backup of the drive where Windows is installed an ASR floppy disk where ASR data will be stored. Follow these directions to create the backup and ASR floppy disk:
1. Click Start. All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Backup.
2. Click the Advanced Mode link. On the Welcome tab, click Automated System Recovery wizard. Click Next.
3. The Backup Destination windows appears; select the location of the device you are storing the backup. Insert a floppy disk into the drive. Click Next.
4. Click Finish.
5. When the backup is finished, label the disk “ASR disk,” date it, put the name of the computer on it, and place the disk in a safe place.
When a system backup is performed, all of the information on the computer is saved for safekeeping. If your hard drive crashes or your computer is infection with a virus, the computer data is available to be transferred to a new computer. Part of general computer maintenance should include periodically creating system backups. A manual system backup is also a good idea before you install new software or make significant system changes.