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Using Backup in Windows XP

Using Backup in Windows XP

The Backup utility helps you create a copy of the information on a tape or storage device. Suppose the original data on your hard disk is accidentally erased or overwritten or becomes inaccessible because of a hard disk malfunction. In that case, you can use the copy to restore your lost or damaged data.


  • To start Backup, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup.
  • The Removable Storage service must be started for Backup to work correctly.
  • You can also use the Automated System Recovery Wizard in the Backup utility to help you repair your system.
  • For information about using Backup, click the Help menu in Backup.

Backing up files and folders

Backup lets you back up data to a file or a tape. When you back up data to a file, you have to designate a file name and a location for the saved file. 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 any 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 Backup works together with Removable Storage, you might have to use Removable Storage to perform specific maintenance tasks, such as preparing and ejecting tapes.

The following four steps describe a simple backup operation:

Select files, folders, and drives for backup

Backup provides you with a tree view of the drives, files, and folders on your computer, which you can use to select the files and folders 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.

Select storage media or file location for backed-up data

Backup 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 USB drive, or any 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.

Set backup options

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 choose whether you want a complete log file or summary log file.

Select whether you want to back up data that is stored on mounted drives.

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.

Start the backup

When you start a backup operation, Backup will prompt you for information about the backup job and allow you to set advanced backup options. After you have provided the information or changed your backup options, 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, Backup will not start backing up files; instead, it will add the scheduled backup to the Task Scheduler.


  • You must be an administrator or a backup operator to back up all files and folders. Suppose you are a member of the Users or Power Users group. In that case, 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.
  • 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 only back up the System State data on a local computer. You cannot back up the System State data on a remote computer.
  • 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 Backup.
  • If you have Windows Media Services running on your computer, and you want to back up the files associated with these services, see "Running Backup with Windows Media Services" in the Windows Media Services online documentation. You must follow the procedures outlined in the Windows Media Services online documentation before you can back up or restore files associated with Windows Media Services.
  • If you are using Removable Storage to manage media, or you are using Remote Storage to store data, you should regularly back up the files that are in the following folders:
    This will ensure that all of your Remote Storage and Removable Storage data can be restored.

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