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How to Back up a Windows Vista-based Computer?

This article describes how to manually back up your personal files and settings on Windows Vista-based computers as a precautionary measure or to be transferred to another computer or another operating system. This article discusses the use of data transfer tools and standard file copy techniques to complete this.


Back up your files to removable media (external hard disks, DVDs, CDs, or USB memory cards) or to a network location. Do not back up your files to a recovery partition or to the same hard disk on which Windows is installed.

Always store the media that you use for backups in a secure location to prevent unauthorized access to your files. We recommend a fireproof location that is separate from your computer. You may also consider encrypting the backup data.

Under the Three Circumstances - How to Back up a Windows Vista-based Computer?


1. Transfer files and settings to another Windows Vista-based computer

Windows Easy Transfer enables you to back up all user account files and settings, and then restore those accounts and all the users' files and settings to the new computer. To start Windows Easy Transfer, follow these steps:

  • Click Start , Collapse this imageExpand this image, type transfer in the Start Search box, and then click Windows Easy Transfer in the Programs list.
  • Click Next. If you are prompted to close programs, make sure that you have saved any open documents, and then click Close all.
  • Click Start a new Transfer.
  • Click My old Computer.
  • Click Use a CD, DVD or other removable media.
  • Select how you want to transfer your files.
  • Select the location, set a password if you want, and then click Next.
  • Select what you want to transfer.
  • Review the files to transfer, and then click Next or Transfer.
  • Follow the instructions to transfer your files and settings.

2. Back up current data as a safety precaution

You can use Windows Vista Backup and Restore Center to back up your current data as a safety precaution. Notice that Windows Vista backup and restore data can be restored only on a Windows Vista operating system.

  • Click Start , Collapse this imageExpand this image, type backup in the Start Search box, and then click Backup and Restore in the Programs list.
  • Click Back up files under Back up files or your entire computer.
  • Select where you want to store the file backup, and then click Next.
  • Select the file type or file types that you want to back up, and then click Next.
  • Click Save Settings, and then start the backup.
  • Your backup will be saved to the selected backup location.

3. Manually make a copy of files

To manually copy your files to a network location or removable media such as a removable hard disk drive, CD, DVD, or a USB memory card, follow these steps:

  • Click Start , Collapse this imageExpand this image, click Computer, and then double-click the drive that you currently have Windows Vista installed on.
  • Open the Users folder, and then open the user folder from which you want to back up the files.
  • Copy the necessary folders from the user folder to a network location or to removable media.
  • To back up data for all users, repeat steps 2 through 3.

Tip: To determine the size of all the files in the user folder, select all the folders, right-click those selected folders, and then click Properties.

The saved files can be copied to any computer. However, you must have related applications installed on that computer to open those individual files.

Note. Not all applications save their files to the user folder. You should make sure that you check other applications and the location their saved files, and then copy those files to the network location or to the removable media.

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