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Step-By-Step Tutorial: Windows Basics For The First Time User

Part 2:D – Maintaining Your Computer – Back Up

By Patricia Ouellette

Backing up your files would have to constitute as one of the most important procedures for every computer user. Computers are machines and are susceptible to break downs. In quite a few instances, when our computers break down, files can be lost or damaged. This is a major cause for stress at anytime. There is nothing worse than working on a project for months and then having your computer break down and your project lost or files corrupted. However, we can minimize that loss and stress by backing up regularly ready to restore or reinstall when needed.

Backing up your system will use up a lot of floppy disks (20+ floppy disks for small hard drives); therefore it is more economical to use CD R’s or CD RW’s if you have a CD burner. In most instances, because of the massive sizes of hard drives commonly used in computers today, it is a common practice to back up the major areas of the system rather than the complete system (such as "my documents" and "settings").

Some software, especially business software such as accounting programs, will have their own back up systems. In these cases it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these back up systems and use them.

The simplest way to back up documents or files is to save them to floppies, CD R or CDRW’s, as well as to your hard drive. This is a good practice to get into with all your everyday documents and files.

For the purpose of this tutorial we will be looking at using the Windows Back Up Wizard.

Back Up Wizard

Close all programs and files before proceeding with Backing Up your files. We are using CD R or CD RW in these step-by-step instructions, however it is no different if you are using tape drives or floppies.
  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button and click on ‘All Programs’
  2. Select ‘Accessories’ then ‘System Tools’
  3. At the top of the list you will find ‘Back Up’ –click on it.
  4. If you have the ‘Welcome to Back Up Wizard’ screen, click on next; if you don’t, please look at Step 5.
  5. Click on ‘Back up files & Settings’ then click next.
  6. Here you are asked what you wish to back up. Ideally you would have saved all your documents and files in your ‘my Documents’ folder. Choose the option, which best suits your needs. If you choose, ‘Let me choose what to back up’ you will get a browse screen next, where you can select the appropriate files and folders of your choice. Once you have selected them go on to Step 7.
  7. Now you are asked to choose the place you wish to save your back up to. Select the appropriate drive for your CD Burner, tape drive or floppies. Then type in a name for your back up file below and click next.
  8. Windows will now display your choices for your confirmation. If it is correct click finish; if not click the back button and make your changes.
  9. Windows will proceed to back up your files to your removable media (CD or floppy). It will check the back up to verify that it was successful. This will take some time depending on the size of the back up, so be patient. It is not uncommon for a back up of a large size to take up to an hour or more. You will notice that the screen will show an approximate lapse time as a guide. When the back up is completed Windows will let you know by popping up a message screen.
  10. Now you are done. Remove the disk and store it in a safe place.
Restoring Back Ups

Creating back ups is great, but it is also important to know how to restore a back up file to your hard drive. Again Windows has a wizard to assist us with this process. Place your back up disk in the appropriate drive.
  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button and then on ‘All Programs’
  2. Select ‘Accessories’ then ‘System Tools’
  3. At the top of the list you will find ‘Back Up’ – click on it.
  4. Click on ‘Restore Back up files & Settings’ then click next.
  5. You will be asked what you wish to restore, double click on file to the left of the screen to open the selection list. Place a check mark by clicking on the appropriate box(es) you wish to restore and click next.
  6. Verify that it is the file(s) you wish to restore and click finish. If it isn’t correct, click back and make your changes.
  7. Windows will proceed to restore your files and verify the integrity of the back up. This will take some time so be patient.
  8. Now you’re done. Remove the disk and again store it in a safe place for future use. It is a good idea to manually check the restored files, so go into your ‘my Documents’ folder and take a look at a few of them to verify the integrity of the files yourself.
In Conclusion

I cannot stress enough the importance of backing up your files. Whether you do a complete back up or simply save your files to both the hard drive as well as a removable media disk is your choice. Remember that when you do a back up via the Windows Back Up Wizard, it will verify the integrity of the disk and the files on completion of the back up. Simply saving to a removable disk does not give you this peace of mind.

Be sure to back up regularly. Personally I save to hard drive and removable disk on completion of every session when working on a project or document, as well as back up ‘My Documents’ folder each week via the Windows Back Up Wizard.

In the fifteen years I have been using computers I have had to restore back ups on nine occasions due to hard drive failures and cluster corruptions on my systems. I thank God that I did have back ups and did not lose too many of my precious files at those times.
Trish Ouellette is a wife and step-mother of seven glorious children and three grand children. Trish and her husband Jim, run a small computer business from home, as well as two large Internet ministries, which keep her busy designing websites, fixing, upgrading and building computers and teaching computer and Internet technology. With every minute of her spare time she explores her talents in writing and art, which is available to view on her personal website Christ Driven Brush & Pen http://christdriven.evangel-list.com.
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