Join David Rivers for an in-depth discussion in this video Backing up your files, part of Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.
Before performing a major operation like installing an operating system, such as Windows 7, you might consider performing a system backup before you begin. This is just in case of an emergency and you need to revert back to Windows XP and the files and settings that you started out with. To do that, we can use the Windows XP Backup Utility. Click the Start button, then All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Now with you typical Windows XP installation, you'll see the Backup Utility on this list.
But if you're like me and you've got the Windows XP Home Edition, you won't see it here, because it's not installed automatically for you. You need to do it separately. So we'll click the Desktop to close up our menus, and we'll pop in the Windows XP Home Edition Installation CD. Now automatically, it's going to display a Welcome Screen and from there, we'll navigate to the Backup Utility. So from the main Welcome Screen, we'll click Perform additional tasks.
Then we'll click the arrow next to Browse this CD, which opens up another window, allowing us to navigate the various folders on the CD. Double-click the VALUEADD folder to open it up. Then double-click the MSFT folder. In there, you'll find another folder named NTBACKUP. Double-click this folder to find the program that actually installs the Backup Utility. It's called NTBACKUP. Just double-click that. It only takes a short moment for the Backup Utility to be installed.
Once completed, click the Finish button and then you can close this window and you can even close the Welcome Screen from you installation CD. Now when you go down to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools, you'll find the Backup Utility is there. So when select Backup, a wizard launches, and it's going to prompt just to the various steps of backing up our system files. So the first step is to click Next.
Now we need to decide what we're doing: are we backing up files and settings or restoring them? Once we perform a backup, if we need to restore them, this is exactly what we do. Only we choose Restore files and settings. But with Back up files and settings selected, click Next. Now we get to choose exactly what we're going to back up. Now if you only want to back up your own documents and your own settings, which will include things like your favorites, your Desktop icons, even cookies, then leave the default radio button selected next to My documents and settings.
If you've got multiple users logging into this computer and each one has their own account, you might want to select Everyone's documents and settings. That way, all of the documents and files that belong to each user account will be backed up and that will include subfolders, Favorites, Desktops and cookies. If want to do a full system backup, that means back up everything on the hard drive, you can choose All information on this computer. That will include all of your programs. That will include all of your files, all of your settings.
This is where you would restore back to Windows XP in the case of a major failure. Selecting this option though is going to take up a lot of space. Everything that's installed is going to be backed up. You may also want to select your own options with Let me choose what to back up. Clicking Next will allow you to go through the various folders, but you might miss things, because programs store files for you in various locations. That's why I like this one here, Everyone's documents and settings. That way I know I'm going to get all of the documents and subfolders under My Documents.
I'm going to get all of my Favorites that I stored in my Internet Explorer. I'm going to get all of those little cookies and so on. Even my contact list and email messages will be saved or backed up, in this case. So I'm going to leave that one selected and click Next. You can make your own selection. Click Next when you're done. Now it's time to choose where you're backing up to. A single file is going to be created. That's the file you would restore with. But here we first need to choose where we're going to back up this file to.
You'll notice I've got a USB drive, a removable disk, plugged into my USB port. It's labeled G for me. You may see different options here when you click the drop-down. I've only got that one option. If you want to go to a Network Drive, you could click the Browse button. From here, click My Computer. You might have a different hard disk. You might want to select Network Share if it's available on this list. What you can't do is back up to a CD or DVD directly.
So you'll have to choose a location. It's going to create the backup file, and if you want it on a DVD or a CD, then you can copy it later doing that manually. So I'm going to leave it as my Removable Disk. It's big enough. It's 4 gigabytes in size to take my backup file. You can choose whatever you like. I'm going to click Cancel here and keep Removable Disk (G) selected. Now you get to type in a name. It might just show up as Backup. I've added XP to the end here, so I know that this is my XP backup.
Now I might need to move on to the next step, which is actually the very last step to confirm my selections. If I want, click Finish. Now just before I click Finish, you notice there is an Advanced button. For a single backup like we're doing, we'd simply click the Finish button. But if we want to go in and start scheduling regular backups, here's where we go to do it. But that doesn't apply to us. So let's click Finish. Now it's just going to be a matter of time before our backup file is created. That all depends on the number of files and the number of folders, subfolders, user accounts and so on.
You can see my estimated time remaining is not very long actually. 4 minutes or so. So I'll sit here and wait for that to happen. Once it's completed, I'll see the Close button appear up here in the top right-hand corner. I'll have my backup file stored to whatever location I selected. In this case, a USB Drive. I'd pull that out, store it in a safe location before I begin my Windows installation process. So, once your backup is completed, you can close up this window and you're ready to start installing Windows 7.
- Figuring out the best migration option for any situation
- Creating an optional partition for Windows 7
- Using Easy Transfer to store files and settings
- Performing a clean install of Windows 7 on a new partition
- Cleaning up temporary files after installation with disk cleanup