Any number of things can cause you to lose data stored on your computer hard drive. A virus or other calamity could affect certain segments of your hard drive, causing you to lose entire folders filled with important content. Your hard drive could also crash, which could potentially cause you to lose every last bit of data that was stored on it. It is for these reasons that it is extremely important to periodically back up the contents of your Windows computer to avoid hassles later on. Luckily, the Windows operating system includes a free program that lets you do just that. You can also set the program to automatically back up your hard drive at regular intervals, which means that after the initial setup you don’t ever have to think about the process again.
Click “Start.” Open the Microsoft Windows “All Programs” menu and select the “Maintenance” folder. From here, click “Backup and Restore.” This will launch the automated Windows utility that allows you to back up your computer.
Click the “Set up Backup” link on the right side of the screen. This will open a new window on screen. The new window will take a few seconds to fully load, so be patient.
Select the destination where you want your computer backup to be stored. If you want to create a backup onto a DVD, for example, insert a blank DVD into your computer’s burner and select the DVD burner drive from the list. Note that you cannot create a backup of your main hard drive on that same drive, as doing so would defeat the purpose of having a backup in the first place. Click “Next” to continue.
Select “Let Me Choose” if you want to specify exactly what content you would like to archive. Use the window that opens to select the files, folders and directories that you want to include in the backup. You may also select “Let Windows Choose” to allow your operating system to select for you. Click “Next” to continue.
Click “Change Schedule” to select a recurring time for your backup. If you want to archive your hard drive every Wednesday at 11:00am, for example, specify this information on the window that opens. Click the button labeled “Save Settings and Run Backup” to begin the backup process. Depending on the size of your hard drive and the total amount of data you have selected to archive, this could take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. Do not attempt to use your computer during this time, as doing so could dramatically slow and impair the utility’s overall progress.