You probably already know that backing up your data is important – if not because it’s good practice, then because you’ve lost files of your own before. What’s less-known, however, is that Windows XP contains its own backup wizard which can schedule your backup times. What’s more, this wizard backs up your system settings as well as your files and packages them into one file container.
To open the Backup Wizard, left-click the My Computer icon on your desktop. This will show you a list of all the storage drives attached to your computer. Right-click on your system drive, and left-click Properties. For most people, the C: drive is the system drive. If you have more than one storage drive, select the one that has a Windows folder in it.
Clicking Properties will open the Drive Properties menu. Left-click the Tools tab, and then left-click the Backup Now button towards the bottom of the menu.
This will start the Backup Wizard. Leave the “Always open in wizard mode” box checked and click Next. Select the “Back up files and settings” radio button and click Next.
The next menu allows you to select the files and folders you would like to back up. You can always change this later, but for now just select “My documents and settings” to back up your documents folder and system settings. Don’t click Next yet, though.
First, make sure that your backup device is connected. Your backup should always be a separate drive, like an external hard drive or a flash drive. Saving backups to the same storage drive is just like the old advice about keeping all your eggs in one basket – if you lose the drive, you lose everything with it, including the backups! Once you have an external drive or USB stick connected, click Next.
Now the wizard will ask you where you would like to place your backup. Click Browse on the right side of the menu to locate your backup storage drive.
Left-click My Computer at the bottom left of this menu, and find your backup device. Left-click once on the icon drive you wish to save the file to, and then click Save.
You will return to the Backup Location and Name step in the wizard. If you like, you can change the name of your backup file. Adding the backup date to the title can be very useful, but make sure that you use periods and not slashes for the date – Windows file names can’t have slashes in them. Click Next.
If you’d only like to back up your files this one time, then you’re done! Click Finish to begin the file backup process. A window will open that shows the status of the backup. This process also opens something called Shadow Copy, which copies files that may be in use so that they can still be copied into the backup.
If you’d like to schedule your backups or change the type of backup you create, you can click the Advanced options before you click Finish. You can schedule backups on a periodic basis, or set them to occur when the computer is idle. This is a great way to make use of the times that your computer is on, but no one’s working with it.