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Backing Up to an External Drive

Duane from New Port Richey, FL asks:

I just bought an external hard drive and would like to copy my whole C-drive to it. How do I do this?

What you’re asking about here, Duane, is called a disc “image” or “mirror”. This is used to help you recover your Windows setup and all of your files in the case of catastrophic drive failure.

If you are using Windows XP home edition, you will need to use the backup software that came with your external drive or a program such as Ghost to back up your drive; home edition comes with no backup software.

If you are using XP professional or media center, however, you can access the backup software by clicking Start>All Programs>System Tools.


From there, you will choose the location where you want your backup stored.

In Vista, you access backup by clicking Start>Control Panel>Backup and Restore Center. In Windows 7, it is accessed by clicking Start>Control Panel>System and Maintenance>Backup and Restore. From there they are the same.

Once you open Backup and Restore, you will see the backup screen.


Click on Back up Computer, answer the security warning, and then choose where to backup your information.


Follow the prompts and you’re backing up your drive.

Vista also allows you to schedule a recurring backup of your files, although not of your complete hard drive. Windows 7 allows you to schedule any backup. If you have a dedicated drive for your backups, this is probably the best and easiest way to keep your files or drive backed up.

If you have a catastrophic drive failure, once you’ve reinstalled Windows, you can use the backup and restore center to restore your drive exactly as it was before.

Hope this helps.

~Randal Schaffer