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Windows XP Backup Utility

By James Wise
web posted March 16, 2009
COLUMN – In the previous column, I talked about how important it is to backup the data on your computer and I said that there were a lot of options for doing this. In this column, we’ll talk about one free option for Windows XP users that you probably already have, the Windows XP Backup program. Note that these instructions are for backing up the DATA on your computer. These are normally the files you can’t otherwise replace such as pictures, documents, email, bookmarks, etc…. This doesn’t address your operating system or program files though. Keep in mind that in the event of a complete system failure, you would need to re-install those programs so be sure to have a copy of your programs somewhere as well (i.e. the program setup disks).

Using the Windows XP Backup Utility:

Run the Backup utility from Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup
Note: If you are running Windows XP Home Edition, you might not have the Backup option. In that case, follow these additional steps:

View Step by Step instructions by the video below. (Expand video to full screen for best viewing )

1)    Put the Windows XP Home Edition CD in the CD Drive.
2)    Double-click the Ntbackup.msi file in the following location to start a wizard that installs Backup: <CD drive letter>:\VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP (e.g. D:\VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP
3)    When the installation wizard is finished, click Finish.

When the window above appears, click Next

Make sure Back up files and settings is selected and click Next

Select which files you want to backup. I typically recommend using Everyone’s documents and settings if you use the “My Documents” folder for all your files. If you use a different directory, you can use Let me choose what to back up and select folders/files as necessary. This is a more advance step. For our purposes, I choose Everyone’s documents and settings and clicked Next.

Click the Browse button to choose where to store the backup. If you have more than one hard drive (or an external drive or “thumb drive”), I would suggest using that (i.e. D:\Backup) (my computer, D drive, create new folder button, backup) (or C:\Backup if you only have one hard drive). If you have a network with more than one computer, you could use \\<computer name>\backup\) but this is a more advanced option. Just remember that ideally, you should have a backup on a completely different disk and perhaps even have a copy outside of you home if possible for maximum protection. Also make sure you have enough free space for your backup on the location you pick. For more details about this, see the “running the backup” section at the end of this procedure.

For our purposes, I choose C:\Backup. Fill in a file name such as Laptop and click Save. Just be sure as well that you have enough free space on whatever location you choose to store your backup.

Click Next

If you just wanted to make a backup this one time, you could simply click Finish and the backup would run. In our case though, we are going to set this up as an automatic backup job so click Advanced.

Use Normal for the backup type and click Next.

In our case, we won’t use any additional options so just click Next.

Select Replace the existing backups (so that the file is overwritten) and choose Next.

Choose Later, enter a job name (like Backup) and click Set Schedule.

Use whatever schedule you would like (anything other than Once I would say). In my case, I used a Weekly backup at 2:00 AM every 1 week on Saturday (so at the end of my work week) and click OK.

Enter your password twice and click OK.
Click Next

You may have to enter your password twice once more and click OK. When you see the window above, click Finish.

If you want to have several different days worth of backups, you could follow the steps above to create several different backup jobs storing each one as a separate file name (e.g. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3). Each job could then be run every 4 weeks for example. A similar strategy is often used within businesses. This offers some additional protection by providing for multiple backups in case of file corruption or deletion because you could recover an older backup. For home use though, one backup job is generally sufficient.

Verifying the Backup and Running it Immediately Should You Want To

At this point, the backup should run automatically using the schedule you indicated. I strongly suggest double checking the location you specified in step 5 after the next time the backup should run to make sure that the file is there. You can also go to Start, and click Control Panel. Then click Performance and Maintenance (or double click scheduled tasks depending on your view) and click scheduled tasks.

You should see a task called “Backup” (name chosen in step 11). With this, you can see the last time it ran and the next time it will run. You can also see a result (0x0 as shown above means no errors). If you ever want to force the backup to run right away, just right click the backup task and click Run.

When the backup runs, you can see the progress.

Coming Soon

Next time, we’ll talk about how Windows Vista users can backup their systems with the Vista Backup program. In future columns we will talk about how to copy a backup to a CD or DVD for “off site storage” in the event of a fire, stolen computer, etc… and we’ll talk about other backup options like programs that backup your computer over the Internet (thus providing an “off site backup”) and special external hard drives specifically designed for easy backups. To wrap things up, we’ll also review how to recover files from a backup.   

Do you have a tech question you would like answered or a program you would like to recommend? Email me at edgefieldtechhelp@gmail.com. For computer questions, please include your operating system version (e.g. Windows Vista) and sorry, but I don’t do Macs.

Disclaimer: Software, tips, and links provided are used at the risk of the reader.


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