How to run scheduled backups in Windows 7

Scheduled backups not only help prevent the loss of critical data, but also make it less likely that you'll bludgeon someone to death in a fit of rage when your computer crashes. Behold our handy guide

Windows Vista introduced some new backup tools, but they failed in one important area: you couldn't specify exactly which folders should be backed up. Thankfully, the Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7 addresses this issue and also adds some extra features. Here's how to set up scheduled backups in Windows 7.

1. Click on the 'Start' button and type 'Backup and Restore' into the search box. The Backup and Restore program should be listed in the search results. Click on it to launch the program. If no backups have previously been set, you'll see a 'Set up backup' option on the right side of the window. Click this option.

Step 1

2. After a short pause, you'll be asked where you want to save the backup files. Those running Windows 7 Home Premium get the option to save to a separate hard drive, CD, DVD or attached USB storage device. If you're running Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional or Enterprise, you'll have the additional option of saving the backup to a network folder. Highlight your choice and click 'Next'.

Step 2

3. One of the new features in Windows 7 is the ability to choose individual folders that you want to be included in the backup. Unless you're happy to leave Windows to decide which folders to back up, click the 'Let me choose' option and then click 'Next'.

Step 3

4. By default, all libraries associated with registered users of your computer are included. You can also specify individual folders by clicking on the 'Computer' section and then navigating through your hard drive. When you spot a folder you want to include, simply place a tick in the box next to it -- if the folder has subfolders, they will be included. You can also opt to include a system image, which will let you restore Windows to a working state if all goes wrong.

Step 4

5. Click 'Next' when you've selected all the folders you want to include. You'll now see a summary screen detailing what's to be included in the backup. Windows 7 will also create a schedule for you. If you're happy with this, click 'Save settings and run backup'. You can alter when the backup runs by clicking 'Change schedule'.

Step 5

6. In the screen that appears, you can choose whether to run the backup on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, as well as specify the day and time it should be run. If you only want to run the backup on a manual basis, remove the tick from the 'Run backup on a schedule' option. When you've made your choices, click 'OK' and run the backup as in the previous step.

Step 6