Computer backups should be part of any maintenance program worth its salt and should also be included in the overall cybersecurity strategy. Compulsory in business and professional fields, they are also highly recommended for consumption in an age where the amount of data to keep has increased exponentially and it is very easy to lose our precious data, sometimes irreparably.
And it is that nobody is safe from a physical problem with the storage units or with the memories or a serious problem in the operating system generally caused by some application or installation of drivers that can also cause us to lose our files. And what about malware. Any infection can corrupt, block or take over them as occurs in Ransomware attacks. In all those cases, the backups they are life insurance.
world backup day
Despite its importance, a good part of users do not practice this task with due diligence and as far as companies are concerned, not all of them do it completely and efficiently. As a form of awareness, the technology industry proposed to celebrate annually the world backup day every day March 31.
It is important to get to work as soon as possible and there are several ways to do it, starting by transferring the most important files and data that we cannot lose to secondary storage units that we have in use on our PC. They can be internal second units or -even better- external drives.
Here we have the possibility of using optical media, pen drives or other USB units, in addition to the specific devices for this task where NAS stand out. If we choose to use third party means, the cloud storage are another good method to safeguard data and files.
As for software, there are dozens of dedicated commercial applications that make it easy to automatically back up data. But also the main operating systems have internal tools to do this and additionally offer recovery and restore functions. We remind you of the possibilities offered by Windows operating systems.
It is the indicated method when we want to safeguard all computer data, operating system, settings, applications and user files. The tool is available in Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 7 and allows you to create a complete image of the drives required for Windows to run. This image can be used to restore the computer in case of critical computer failures. It is managed as follows:
- Access the control Panel of the system.
- Click on Backup and restore (Windows 7).
- Click on Create a system image.
- Choose where the image will be saved. Except for the partition where Windows is installed, you can save the image in multiple places, starting with another partition on the hard drive or SSD. However, in case internal storage fails completely, we recommend saving the image to an external USB drive or network drive. It is also possible to use DVD optical media, but you need a very large number of them.
- Confirm and start the process by clicking Start backup.
The backup can take from 10 minutes to several hours depending on the amount of data to be processed, although you can use your computer during the process. The tool does not allow us to customize the files to be included, but it is a simple method that can be done from the operating system itself, which will produce a complete image that we can restore if the storage unit or the computer stops working.
As its name indicates, it is the indicated method to save a personalized backup of the main folders and files of the system to recover them if they are lost or damaged. In the following way:
- Access the control Panel of the system.
- Click on File history.
- Select an external drive such as a hard drive / SSD to USB port or select a network drive where to save the copies.
- You can select and exclude the folders among the main ones of the system, Libraries (downloads, documents, images…) Desktop, Contact and Favorites.
- Once managed, click on the button Activate.
Once activated for the first time, you can access the Advanced settings to choose how often backups will be made and how long saved versions will be kept. In case of problems you just have to click on the option Restore personal files and choose the version of the files you want to return to their original location.
Restore points in Windows are another helpful feature for troubleshoot the operating system in the event of a fatal system errorvirus, installation of drivers or an application that does not work correctly and that sometimes destabilizes the operating system.
Restore points in Windows are created and managed with the system recovery tool System Restore. Its operation is as simple as it is powerful. The utility saves the files and main configuration of the operating system, settings, drivers, registry keys or installed programs and in case of errors, it allows you to revert the changes made and return to a previous state where the system worked correctly.
Its operation and management is basically the same in Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 and it is very useful for any user when the system does not work well or does so erratically as a result of some installation or modification of its parameters, something not uncommon in Microsoft systems. It also serves as insurance against major system changes, such as when we make changes to the registry.
How to create restore points in Windows
To check if we have the active function or manage it, we access the System Protection tool located in the control panel of the operating system or directly from the search box by typing “system restore” or “restore points”:
This way we will enter the ‘System / System Protection’ tool and we will be able to see if we have the system restore function activated and in how many of the available units. We recommend at least activate it on the disk partition where we have the operating system installed. We can also set the configuration, manage the disk space that we have dedicated and delete previous restore points that we are not going to use.
Click on Configure and activate system protection. We will also have to set the use of the storage unit space that we are going to assign to this restoration function and that will depend on our needs and the total capacity that we have on the computer.
Once the function is activated, we can now create restore points when we are interested, recommending doing so before changes in hardware, installation of drivers or applications that we doubt will work. Obviously, we must create the restore points when the system works correctly.
How to restore the system
Once the restore points have been created, we can use them to undo those unwanted changes that have caused the errors in the system. From the same ‘System Properties’ screen we can restore the system to revert the computer to a previous point in case of problems.
Simply click on the ‘System Restore’ button and choose one of the points that we have created manually or an automatic point created by the system itself.
The tool will restore the files and main configuration of the operating system, settings, drivers, registry keys or installed programs to the moment they were created and to a correct functioning of the system.
How to delete restore points in Windows
If you want to delete the previous restore points to make room for the new ones, you can delete them all from the same tool:
If what you want is to delete individual points, you can also do it, although for this you have to go to other more advanced methods and specifically to the Windows console. Open the terminal with administrative privileges and type the command “vssadmin list shadows”. The restore points are not listed by the name you set in graphical mode but by snapshot ID. To delete an individual restore point, copy and paste that identifier with the command “vssadmin delete shadows /shadow=(Shadow ID)”.
Concluding. World Backup Day is a good reminder of the need to perform these backup tasks as an essential maintenance task. If a replacement of damaged hardware can be fixed, the loss of professional or personal files can be costly and sometimes no recovery possible if you don’t have backups.
As for the recovery tools, they are other essential functions that allow you to return the equipment to a previous point in a simple and fast way, just as we had it before the problems began, with the consequent saving of your valuable time in reinstalling the operating system, settings, applications and data.