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How to Back Up Your Files (Windows Vista or XP)

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This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista or XP.
People store a lot of important information on their computers, but very few people think about backing up their files until a disaster has happened and their information is lost. HP recommends that you make backup copies of your files on a regular basis, and that you store the backed-up files in a separate physical location, away from the computer. Performing scheduled backups will help you to recover some, if not all, of your information in the event that something happens to the original files on your computer.
If you use one of the dedicated backup and recovery programs provided by HP, Microsoft, or a third-party vendor, use the instructions that are provided in the program's user guide or help file.

Decide which files to back up

The first step is to decide which files or file types you want to back up. Make a list of important information that you cannot easily replace. This list can help you determine which files to back up, and also give you a reference list in the event that you need to retrieve the files.
Here are some file type suggestions to get you started:
  • Personal documents and letters
  • Digital photographs
  • Bank records or financial information
  • Music and videos
  • E-mail and contact names

Search for files to back up

After deciding what files you want to backup, take time to find where your files are stored. Most programs save your personal files to a default location in Windows.
Default location for your filesDefault location for your files
Windows XPWindows Vista
C:\Documents and Settings\<User Name>\My DocumentsC:\Users\<User Name>\Documents
If multiple people use the same computer with individual logons, Windows creates a new Documents folder for each person. This helps separate and organize files.
However, if you have programs that save files in other locations on your hard disk, or if you have a different method for organizing your files, you can easily find them with the built-in search utility in Windows. Simply type Windows logo key + F and then enter your search criteria (such as a search for all JPG images or all Word documents, or search for all files that were created after a specific date, and so on.)
After locating your files in the Search window, click the View menu and select Details to view additional information about the files. You can review the listing and decide which files you want to save, making a note of their locations for use in the backup program of your choice.

Decide where to save working files in the future

If you have to spend time finding files, you should develop a strategy for organizing your files in the future. Even though most programs save personal files to a default location in Windows, they also allow you to specify any other location to store files on the hard drive.
Example work file structure in Windows
C:\Users\<User One>\My Documents\FamilyFiles
C:\Users\<User One>\My Documents\Graphics
C:\Users\<User One>\My Documents\Word
C:\Users\<User One>\My Documents\Word\Business
C:\Users\<User One>\My Documents\Word\Personal
C:\Work Space\Graphics
C:\Work Space\Graphics\Cars
C:\Work Space\Layout
C:\Work Space\Layout\Raw Text
C:\Work Space\Deliverables
One advantage of using this type of folder and sub-folder structure is that to back up all of your files, you can select the top-level folder and tell the program to copy all of the lower-level folders and files at the same time.

Decide where to save the backup files

For safety, you should back up your files to some external media rather than copying them to an alternate internal drive. Your notebook computer has USB ports that allow you to connect an external hard drive with a USB cable or to use a USB flash drive/Memory Stick to back up your files. If you have multiple computers or a small home network, you may want to use an external hard drive storage device for backing up all of your computers, or back up the data from one computer to the hard drive of another computer.
The backup program prompts you to select a storage location for the files. Select the proper external USB drive rather than using another internal hard drive. By default, on most HP notebooks, the D:\ drive is actually a small partition on the hard drive that is reserved for the HP Recovery Manager . If you select the HP recovery partition, then the backup program could inadvertently overwrite the files there and cause a failure.
Backups should be made on a regular schedule (weekly or monthly). Do a special backup before you make any major changes to your computer (such as installing new hardware components, or upgrading the operating system). If you are using an external USB storage device, such as an external hard drive or thumb drive / flash drive / memory stick, label the media with the name of the computer and the backup date. Store the media in a safe location away from the computer.
If you will be using a flash drive/memory stick to back up your files, be sure that the drive has enough storage capacity and free space for the backup.

Back up files with the HP Recovery Manager

The HP Recovery Manager is used to back up your personal files to an external USB storage device.
  1. Boot to the recovery partition by pressing F11 .
  2. Click Advanced Options .
  3. Click Backup computer files .
  4. Select the type of files you need to back up from the list and then click Next . It will take several minutes to locate all of the files, no matter where they are on the hard drive.
  5. Select the destination device (external USB hard drive or a USB flash drive/Memory Stick).
  6. Click Next to start the backup.
New files will be backed up. Depending on the number of files located, it could take an hour or more to backup the files.

Back up files in Windows Vista

If you do not have the HP Recovery Manager and are running Windows Vista, you can use the Backup and Restore Center to back up your files.
  1. Click Start , type backup into the search field, and then select Backup and Restore Center from the search results list.
  2. Click the Back up files button and then follow the on-screen instructions to back up your files.
A backup file is created in the specified location. The backup file has the extension ".bkf".

Back up files in Windows XP

If your notebook uses Windows XP, you can use the Backup utility to back up your files.
  1. Click Start , All Programs , Accessories , System Tools , and then Backup to open the Backup or Restore wizard.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to create your backup file.
A backup file is created in the specified location. The backup file has the extension ".bkf".

Back up files to CD or DVD

If you do not have a dedicated backup and recovery program, you can back up your files by burning them to a CD or DVD. This requires that your notebook have an optical drive that can both read and write discs. There are a number of different ways to burn files to a disc in Windows, depending on your operating system version, the method you are most comfortable using, and whether you prefer to use a third-party disc burning utility or not.
For instructions on how to burn a disc in Windows, see Burn a CD or DVD in Windows Explorer (Microsoft document). If you are using Windows XP, see How to copy information to a CD in Windows XP (Microsoft document).

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