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Backing Up the Files on Your Computer

In Vista, backups are a breeze. Just go to the Control Panel (from the Start menu) and look under System and Maintenance. Click the Back Up Your Computer link to open the Backup and Restore Center. In here you have two backup options: (1) backing up the files and folders on your computer, and (2) creating a Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore image (not available in Home Basic; see the next tip). The difference between the two is pretty simple: Backing up the files and folders (by clicking the Back Up Files button) makes exact copies of all the files on your computer. With that backup, you could either restore the files in case of a crash or even move them to another computer. Plus, you have access on that backup to each and every individual file, so you can pick and choose which ones you want to restore later. Option (2) is best suited for creating a complete disk image of your computer when it’s in a happy place, say when you first install Windows and all of your programs. An image is basically a snapshot of your computer’s installed programs, files, and folder structure all lumped into one file. That way, should anything ever happen to your hard drive, you can restore that image and your computer will be taken back to that very point. You would not use this option to create backups of the files and folders on your computer, though. Option (1) is better for this. So my suggestion is this: after you install Vista (or buy a new computer), go ahead and use option (2) to make a full system backup. Now you’ve got a good restore point should anything happen. Then use option (1) periodically to create backups of the files on your computer, so you know the actual data you need is safe and you can always load the files if they’re ever needed.

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