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How To Use the Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7 - Part 1

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/6/2010

Nearly every version of Windows has had some form of file level backup and recovery built into the system – Windows 7 is no different. How does the new version of the backup and restore center shape up? Part one will cover Windows 7's File based Backup and Recovery.

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    The Windows 7 Backup and Restore center has a few new features compared to versions past. File level backup is still present and is wrapped in a user friendly wizard-driven interface. A big addition to the tool is the ability to perform image based backup and restores. This will be covered in Part 2 of this series.

    Here are some of the high level features:

    • Windows 7 Backup supports backup to optical media, USB devices such as thumb sticks and external hard drives and network locations.
    • Backups are created as a set noted by date and time taken. Each backup set can be recovered from by selecting the entire set or select files or folders.
    • Backups can be scheduled to run at specific dates and times.

    From the time I’ve spent with the Windows 7 Backup and Restore Center, I can easily say this is the best version of the built-in tool Microsoft has built yet.

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    Performing File-Based Backups

    You can perform a file based or image based backup by going to the Backup and Restore center. This section covers performing a file based backup.

    1. Click the Start menu and type “backup” in the search bar.
    2. Click on “Backup and Restore”.
    3. The Backup and Restore center will open (Figure 1). Click on the “Set up backup” button.
    4. Select the location you want to back up to and click Next (Figure 2).
    5. You have two options for what to backup – let Windows choose or manually select. Windows will back up any libraries and custom app data, downloaded files and favorites. It’s a safe bet, but if you want, you can select your own files to back up (Figure 3). Click next when you’ve finished.
    6. The next screen lets you schedule your backup on a regular basis and to review what will be backed up (Figure 4). Click “Save settings and exit” when you’re ready to perform your first backup.
    7. The backup will now begin. You can follow the status in the Backup and Restore center (Figure 5).

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    Performing a File-Based Restore

    Performing a restore of your files is relatively painless using the Backup and Restore center.

    1. Open the Backup and Restore center as outlined above.
    2. Click the “Restore my files” button.
    3. You now have the option of searching for files to restore or browsing for files or folders. By default, you will be restoring the newest version of a file or folder. Note that if you’ve backed up the same file multiple times, you can select which version you wish to restore (Figure 6). Click Next.
    4. Next, you can specify the location you wish to restore to – the original location or an alternate location. I generally recommend restoring to an alternate location – just to be sure you don’t accidentally overwrite a good file (Figure 7). Click Restore.
    5. The restore process will finish and you will be given the opportunity to view the files you restored.

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    As you can see, Windows 7 Backups and Restores are performed easily, yet have some powerful additions to realistically allow you to use this as a practical replacement for a 3rd party Backup tool.

    In part 2 of this series, I will cover Windows 7's ability to perform image based backup and restores.

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    Figure 1Figure 2Figure 3Figure 4Figure 5Figure 6Figure 7

How to use Windows 7 Backup and Restore Center

This two part series will cover how to use the new Windows 7 Backup and Restore center. Part 1 discusses file based backup and recovery while part 2 discusses image based backup and recovery.
  1. How To Use the Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7 - Part 1
  2. How To Use the Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7 - Part 2