Potential Computer Nightmare Ahead

Backups are something that people never think of until their computer starts doing weird stuff.  Normally it goes from “Hey, what’s up with this?” to “OMG! What about my documents, pictures, and emails!”  It’s never a pretty site, and really there is no reason to fuss about it.  With flash drives, external hard drives, online backup, and the “Cloud”, there shouldn’t be any reason that you lose any documents.   This is fine, but what if you have a disaster that involved a virus or hard drive failure that required you to reinstall all the software?  For the people who just use their computer to surf the internet and play internet games, not a big deal. But for those who have several programs, this is a BIG deal.   Finding the programs is going to be half the battle.  Most PC’s today come preinstalled with the operating system and software, and they don’t send the disks with media so that you can reinstall even the operating system. Unless you created a backup after you purchased the computer, it could take hours, even days, to install, configure and update all the programs.  This is a nightmare!

Windows 7 Backup and Restore

Windows 7 comes with a Backup and Restore function which not only backs up your files, but can create an image of the hard drive with all your software on it.  If your hard drive decides to die, all you need to do is get another drive installed, put in the recovery boot disk, hook up the storage drive that you have the image on, and as quickly as an hour be up and running at the point of your last backup.  Sound Simple?  Yes!  It really is that simple.  Even if you’re not comfortable with doing the recovery yourself and have to contact you’re IT Specialist (aka you’re computer guy), you can save time and money just by having an image backup of your computer.

Setup Backup and Restore

Click Start and find “Control Panel”

Get to Control Panel

Get to the Control Panel through the Start button Windows 7


Next, Find “Backup and Restore”

Backup and Restore - Windows 7

Find Backup and Restore Program


Click “Set up Backup”

Set Backup

Press Set Backup


Find the external drive where you’d like to store your backup

Select External Drive

Select a external drive to backup to.


Select “Let Windows Choose”.  This is the easiest selection.  If you feel adventurous, you can choose “Let me choose”.  This feature will allow you to be more specific about which files and folders you want backed up.  Just be sure to select the image with it.

What do you want to Backup?

Either Select “Let Windows choose” or “Let me choose”


Next, you need to setup the schedule.  The schedule will depend on what kind of user you are.  If you don’t create a lot of documents  or already have a daily online backup or use the cloud to store your documents, you are going to be primarily concerned with the computer image.  Weekly or monthly backups will probably be fine.  I’m constantly creating documents or installing new programs and plugins, I have it run every night.  That is nice, but with a 2TB external drive, it’ll only hold about 60 days worth of backups.


Schedule a day and time for Windows to backup your computer.


When you are done with the backup schedule, Save it, and it’ll start running your first backup.  It’ll show you the progress as it backs up.


Monitor backup progress


If you notice while you’re watching it back up, on the left side of the backup screen you’ll see “Create a system repair disc”.  Whether or not you have a Windows Disc, it might be handy for you to create a system repair disc.  You can get a CD Case and glue the CD case to the side of the hard drive to store it.  That way you know where it is if you ever need to recover your computer.

My Thoughts

It’s good that Microsoft incorporated backup and recovery software with the Windows 7 operating system.  In the past, if users wanted to create an image of their hard drive with all the software installed, they needed to purchase a 3rd party software to accomplish this.  I’d say 99.9% of the people didn’t know that it was an option or wasn’t going to spend the money or time to do it.  I know I wish they’d had this early on in the days of Windows 95.  I spent a large quantity of time reinstalling windows and programs on my computer because of issues I created.

Filed under: Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

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