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How to Use the Windows XP Backup Utility
Regular backups are an essential part of computer maintenance . Windows XP Professional comes with a backup utility already installed but the utility has to be added to the Home Edition. Learn how to use the Microsoft Backup Utility.

Installing Backup in Windows XP Home Edition

The backup utility is not included in the default installation of Windows XP Home Edition. However, it can be found on the full Windows XP installation disk where it is present on the CD in the folder \VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP. The procedure for installing it is given by Microsoft at this reference. Kelly Theriot also has a discussion.

Unfortunately, many vendors no longer sell computers with a full installation CD. Systems may come with on OEM version that has no \VALUEADD\ folder or with no CD at all. Instead there is a "Restore" disk or a hidden partition containing an image with whatever contents were on your computer when you bought it. If you want to read some experiences people have had trying to get their vendor to provide the utility, read this Annoyances.org discussion thread.

Bob Cerelli's page on Windows Tips has a link for downloading a copy of the installation file. It's a very long page so do a search on it for NTBACKUP.

Windows XP Professional Edition Backup

The backup utility can be found in Start-All Programs-Accessories-System Tools. The figure below shows the window that first opens. In this dialog box, you have a choice between Microsoft's step-by-step "Wizard" or the "Advanced Mode". We will first look at the "Wizard" mode. "Advanced Mode" is discussed on another page.

Windows backup

Click "Next" to open the window below. You have a choice of creating a new backup or restoring a previous backup. Make a selection and click "Next".

Windows backup

The next window appears if you are making a new backup. It gives you a choice of what to back up. You may wish to back up everything or just certain folders and/or files. Here we will pick "Let me choose what to back up". Click "Next".

Windows backup

A dialog box will open listing the contents of your computer. Select the particular folders and files that you want to back up. Click "Next".

Windows backup

Now choose where you want to put the backup and what you want to call it. If you are backing up the entire system, make sure that the backup medium has enough space. When you have chosen the destination, click "Next".

A point to remember is that the backup will be a single file and that FAT32 files cannot exceed 4 GB. If you have a larger amount even after compression, any backup drives should be formatted with NTFS. Also note that the utility cannot do a direct backup to a CD-R. Either you have to back up to a folder on a hard drive and then copy to a CD or you need packet-writing software and a CD-RW. The same holds for DVDs.

Windows backup

The next dialog box shows the settings that you have chosen. If they are correct, click "Finish" to create the backup. If you wish, there are also some advanced settings that can be used to modify the backup procedure. They can be accessed by clicking the "Advanced' button before proceeding to "Finish". These settings are considered on the next page.

Windows backup

When the backup is finished, you will get the window shown below

Backup finished

Advanced mode for Windows XP backup

Using the advanced mode for backing up in Windows XP is discussed on the next page.

Backup in Windows 7

The backup facility provided with Windows 7 is much improved. For a discussion go to this other page.


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