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Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup)

The Windows Backup ( Microsoft Backup) utility helps you create a copy of the information on your hard disk. In the event that the original data on your hard disk is accidentally erased or overwritten, or becomes inaccessible because of a hard disk malfunction, you can use the copy to restore your lost or damaged data. The Windows Backup utility helps you protect data from accidental loss.

For example, you can use Windows Backup to create a duplicate copy of the data on your hard disk and then archive the data on another storage device. The backup storage medium can be a logical drive such as your hard drive, or a separate storage device such as a removable disk, or an entire library of disks or tapes organized into a media pool. Using Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup), you can:

  • Archive selected files and folders on your hard disk.
  • Restore the archived files and folders to your hard disk or any other disk you can access.
  • Make a copy of your computer's System State, which includes the system files, the registry, and other system components.
  • Make a copy of your computer's system partition, boot partition, and the files needed to start up your system in case of computer or network failure.

    Types of backup

    The Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup) program supports five methods of backing up data on your computer or network.

    • Copy backup. A copy backup copies all selected files but does not mark each file as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is not cleared). Copying is useful if you want to back up files between normal and incremental backups because copying does not affect these other backup operations.
    • Daily backup. A daily backup copies all selected files that have been modified the day the daily backup is performed. The backed-up files are not marked as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is not cleared).
    • Differential backup. A differential backup copies files created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It does not mark files as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is not cleared). If you are performing a combination of normal and differential backups, restoring files and folders requires that you have the last normal as well as the last differential backup.
    • Incremental backup. An incremental backup backs up only those files created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It marks files as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is cleared). If you use a combination of normal and incremental backups, you will need to have the last normal backup set as well as all incremental backup sets in order to restore your data.
    • Normal backup. A normal backup copies all selected files and marks each file as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is cleared). With normal backups, you need only the most recent copy of the backup file or tape to restore all of the files. You usually perform a normal backup the first time you create a backup set.

    Backing up files and folders

    Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup) lets you back up data to a file or to a tape. When you back up data to a file, you have to designate a file name and a location for the file to be saved. Windows Backup files usually have the extension .bkf, but you can change it to any extension. A backup file can be saved to a hard disk, a floppy disk, or to any other removable or non-removable media on which you can save a file.

    When you back up data to a tape, you must have a tape device connected to your computer. Tapes are managed by Removable Storage. Although Windows Backup works together with Removable Storage, you might have to use Removable Storage to perform certain maintenance tasks, such as preparing and ejecting tapes.

    The following four steps describe a simple backup operation:

    1. Select files, folders, and drives for backup. Windows Backup provides you with a tree view of the drives, files, and folders that are on your computer, which you can use to select the files and folders that you want to back up. You can use this tree view the same way you use Windows Explorer to open drives and folders and select files.
    2. Select storage media or file location for backed-up data. Windows Backup software provides two options for selecting storage media. You can back up your data to a file on a storage device. A storage device can be a hard disk, a Zip disk, or any type of removable or non-removable media to which you can save a file. This option is always available. You can back up your data to a tape device. This option is available only if you have a tape device installed on your computer or connected to it. If you back up data to a tape device, the media will be managed by Removable Storage.
    3. Set backup options. Windows Backup provides an Options dialog box, which you can use to customize your backup operations. Using the Options dialog box, you can select the type of backup that you want to do. Backup types include: copy, daily, differential, incremental, and normal. Select whether you want a log file to record your backup actions. If you select this option, you can also select whether you want a complete log file or a summary log file. Designate file types that you want to exclude from a backup operation. Select whether you want to verify that the data was backed up correctly.
    4. Start the backup. When you start a backup operation, Windows Backup will prompt you for information about the backup job and give you the opportunity to set advanced backup options. After you have provided the information or changed your backup options, Windows Backup will start backing up the files and folders you selected. If you have scheduled the backup to run unattended, you will still be prompted for information about the backup job. However, after you have provided the information, Windows Backup will not start backing up files, rather, it will add the scheduled backup to the Task Scheduler.

    Backing up your data using a combination of normal backups and incremental backups requires the least amount of storage space and is the quickest backup method. However, recovering files can be time-consuming and difficult because the backup set can be stored on several disks or tapes.

    Backing up your data using a combination of normal backups and differential backups is more time-consuming, especially if your data changes frequently, but it is easier to restore the data because the backup set is usually stored on only a few disks or tapes.

    Volume Shadow Copy

    The unique feature of Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup) software is an ability to back up locked files. Optionally, Windows Backup creates a volume shadow copy of your data to create an accurate point-in-time copy of the contents of your hard drive, including any open files or files that are being used by the system. For example, databases that are held open exclusively and files that are open due to operator or system activity are backed up during a volume shadow copy backup. Users can continue to access the system while the backup utility is running without risking loss of data. Shadow copy backups ensure that:

    • Applications can continue to write data to the volume during a backup.
    • Files that are open are no longer omitted during a backup.
    • Backups can be performed at any time, without locking out users.

    System State Data

    The registry, the directory service, and other key system components, are contained in the System State data. You must back up the System State data if you want to back up these components. You can back up and restore the following system components using Windows Backup (Microsoft Backup) software:

    • Registry
    • Boot files, including the system files
    • COM+ Class Registration database
    • Certificate Services database
    • Active Directory directory service
    • Cluster service information
    • IIS Metadirectory
    • System files that are under Windows File Protection

    Windows Backup refers to these system components as the System State data. The exact system components that make up your computer's System State data depend on the computer's operating system and configuration.

    When you choose to back up or restore the System State data, all of the System State data that is relevant to your computer is backed up or restored; you cannot choose to back up or restore individual components of the System State data. This is due to dependencies among the System State components. However, you can restore the System State data to an alternate location. If you do this, only the registry files, cluster database information files, and system boot files are restored to the alternate location. The Active Directory directory services database, Certificate Services database, and COM+ Class Registration database are not restored.

    If you restore the System State data, and you do not designate an alternate location for the restored data, Windows Backup will erase the System State data that is currently on your computer and replace it with the System State data you are restoring.

    Notes

    • You must be an administrator or a backup operator to back up all files and folders. If you are a member of the Users or Power Users group, you must be the owner of the files and folders you want to back up, or you must have one or more of the following permissions for the files and folders you want to back up: read, read and execute, modify, or full control.
    • You can schedule a backup so that it will run unattended at a specific time or frequency. You can schedule a backup after you click Start Windows Backup.
    • You can use Windows Backup to back up and restore data on either FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS volumes. However, if you have backed up data from an NTFS volume used in Windows XP, it is recommended that you restore the data to an NTFS volume used in Windows XP, or you could lose data as well as some file and folder features. Some file systems might not support all features of other file systems. For example, permissions, encrypting file system (EFS) settings, disk quota information, mounted drive information, and Remote Storage information will be lost if you back up data from an NTFS volume used in Windows XP and then restore it to a FAT volume or an NTFS volume used in Windows NT.
    • Windows Backup files usually have the extension .bkf, although you can use any extension.
    • Backup operators and administrators can back up and restore encrypted files and folders without decrypting the files or folders.
    • You can perform backup operations from batch files using the ntbackup command followed by various command line parameters. Using the ntbackup command, you can back up entire folders only. You cannot designate individual files for backup. The ntbackup command does not support the use of wildcard characters. For example, typing *.txt will not back up files with a .txt extension.

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