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How To Guide: Backup and Restore your settings, files, and registry in Microsoft Windows 98, XP, and Vista

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Learn how to easily Create a Full Backup and Restore of all your Computers Settings, Files, and Registry in Windows!

Your probably here because you've had a complete disaster, or you want to prevent one. Hopefully I can shed enough light to help you given whatever situation you might be in regarding your computer. Below I will list steps that you can take to create a full backup of your computers Settings, your personal Files/Data, and most important, your Registry Information while using the Microsoft 98, XP, or Vista operating system. All of the instructions listed below will never cost you any money. Every how to article I write, I do everything possible to provide my readers with free solutions to their problems or inquiries. First the article will outline how you can backup everything in a safe manner. After this is explained, I will touch on how you can restore your information or settings using one of these backup's that you created. Let's get started!

Instructions: How to Backup your Files, Settings, and Registry in Windows.

Backing up your important files in case of complete backup failure:
I'm going to teach you how you can use the backup feature that comes with Windows, but let's face it, Microsoft is not perfect and I wouldn't trust all of my most important information in the hands of something made by Microsoft. This is why I first recommend making a manual backup of the most important things to you before using their backup tool. Below, I will outline how you can create a manual backup of your important files and settings, and then how you can do it using the Windows Backup tool.

How to Backup manually:
1.) The first thing you have to do is be organized. You should have all of your important files and documents like family photos, spread sheets & databases for work or business, and media such as MP3's and Movie Clips stored into folders. You don't want all of your information scatted all over your desktop. If you cannot afford to lose something, you should know where it is and how to find it by being organized. Just by practicing being organized, you should have a sense of relief that you won't lose anything important to you.

2.) You will want to make sure all of your email's, web browser bookmarks, and any other settings that you will need are also organized and stored along with all of your files that you have organized. This way when you have to do a restore, you will still have all of this information. As there are so many different versions and flavors of web browsers and email clients out there, I can't go into much detail on how your able to back this kind of information up. I would suggest using our Search Function and see if we have a article on how to backup settings for whatever your looking for. If you can't find it, look it up on a Search Engine, then come back here and resume the rest of the instructions listed in this article.

3.) Now you want to take all of this information organized, copy it onto your backup device. Most people will use a CD, DVD Burner ROM or something like a large Disk Drive. Your goal is to be using some sort of removable media that can hold at least 4-6 GB of data. If you have a spare hard drive that contains about 60 GB, this should also due the trick. Now that you have completed this, you will probably want to make sure that your able to reach the data on your backup. What good is a backup, if you did something wrong or it didn't work?

How to perform a more Automated Backup:
Now that you have your most important information on a safe back up in case anything were to ever happen to your automated back up's, we'll show you how to create frequent backup's on your computer without the long process of copying all of your files over to your back up device. By implementing the Windows Backup feature, you can have a full back up of all your files, settings, and registry with just a few simple clicks!

1.) First we'll want to take some preparations. If you have multiple users running under your windows account that have important information on different accounts, it's much easier to back up and perform a restore if you have all users keep their important data in their "My Documents" folder (c:\Documents and Settings\Username\My Documents\).

2.) Depending on what style or version of Microsoft Windows that your using, getting to the backup tool can slightly vary. Below are both methods you can use to reach the Windows Backup tool.

- Windows 98/Classic Style View: Click [Start] -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Click on {Backup}.
- Windows XP/Vista Users: [Start] -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Click on {Backup}.

3.) After you have loaded up the windows backup utility, you will follow the instructions provided by the backup wizard. You will be asked what file you want to back up. Please use wisdom when selecting a option to choose from. If you select all users and folders when this option is not needed, the end result will be a huge back up file that might not fit on your back up storage device. After completing the wizard, you may be asked to insert a floppy disk. Inserting a floppy disk is not needed. If you do have a floppy drive, you may hear it trying to spin, just disregard it.

At this point you should have a back up file on your extra hard drive, or you may have burned it to a CD/DVD/Blue Ray Rom of sorts.

How to perform restoration from a new or existing backup:

Restoration is much easier than creating the backup as you may have guessed. The only thing you have to do is simply double click on your backup.bkf file, and proceed with the wizards instructions. The wizard should restore and modified or missing files and settings on your operating system.

Known issues with using Windows Backup:
1.) If you create a backup file in Windows 98 and you later upgrade to Windows XP, the backup file may not work as expected. If you upgrade to a new operating system, it's best to make sure everything is working when performing the upgrade. Once you have made sure of that, it would be a good idea to then create a new back up in your newer version of Windows.

2.) Another down side is when creating your backup, it's easy to run out of space on your backup device. I would personally suggest using a extra hard drive to store your backup.bkf file personally. If you have to use something like a burner, you need to optimize your backup file not to backup junk files that you don't really need.