Windows 7 / Getting Started

How File Backups Work

Backup And Restore provides graphical tools for manually initiating backup and restore sessions and for scheduling automatic backups. All client computers that store important data should have automatic backup scheduled. For more information, read the section titled "Best Practices for Computer Backups" later in this tutorial.

After you first configure automatic file backup using Backup And Restore, Windows 7 will regularly back up all files. The first time a backup is performed, a full backup is done, including all important user documents. Subsequent backups are incremental, backing up only changed files. Older backups are discarded when the disk begins to run out of space.

For example, if you configure a nightly scheduled backup and change a file every day, a copy of that file will be stored in each day's Backup Files folder (described in "File and Folder Backup Structure" later in this tutorial). By storing multiple versions of a single file, Windows 7 gives users the opportunity to choose from several older copies of a file when using the Previous Versions tool (also described later in this tutorial). When you restore files, you only need to restore from a single backup because Windows 7 automatically locates the most recent version of each file. In previous versions of Windows, you need to first restore from the last full backup and then restore any updates from incremental or differential backups.

Windows 7 uses Shadow Copy to back up the last saved version of a file. Therefore, if a file is open during the backup (such as the storage file for local e-mail or an open document), the file will be backed up. However, any changes the user makes since last saving the file are not backed up.

Only administrators can configure scheduled backups or manually initiate a backup. However, once configured, scheduled backups do not require a user to provide administrative credentials. Restoring files does not require administrative privileges unless a user attempts to restore another user's file.

If you perform a file backup to a shared folder, the credentials used to run the backup must have Full Control share and NTFS permissions for the destination folder (known as Coowner permissions in the Windows 7 Setup Wizard). To reduce security risks, set up a user account to be used only by the backup application, and configure share and NTFS permissions to grant access only to the backup user. The backup account requires administrative privileges to the computer being backed up, but it needs permissions only to the share and folder on the target computer.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Disks and File Systems
  2. Overview of Partitioning Disks
  3. How to Choose Between MBR or GPT
  4. Converting from MBR to GPT Disks
  5. GPT Partitions
  6. Choosing Basic or Dynamic Disks
  7. Working with Volumes
  8. How to Create a Simple Volume
  9. How to Create a Spanned Volume
  10. How to Create a Striped Volume
  11. How to Resize a Volume
  12. How to Delete a Volume
  13. How to Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk
  14. File System Fragmentation
  15. Backup And Restore
  16. How File Backups Work
  17. File and Folder Backup Structure
  18. How System Image Backups Work
  19. How to Start a System Image Backup from the Command Line
  20. How to Restore a System Image Backup
  21. System Image Backup Structure
  22. Best Practices for Computer Backups
  23. How to Manage Backup Using Group Policy Settings
  24. Previous Versions and Shadow Copies
  25. How to Manage Shadow Copies
  26. How to Restore a File with Previous Versions
  27. How to Configure Previous Versions with Group Policy Settings
  28. Windows ReadyBoost
  29. BitLocker Drive Encryption
  30. How BitLocker Encrypts Data
  31. How BitLocker Protects Data
  32. TPM with External Key (Require Startup USB Key At Every Startup)
  33. TPM with PIN (Require PIN At Every Startup)
  34. TPM with PIN and External Key
  35. BitLocker To Go
  36. BitLocker Phases
  37. Requirements for Protecting the System Volume with BitLocker
  38. How to Enable the Use of BitLocker on the System Volume on Computers Without TPM
  39. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on System Volumes
  40. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on Data Volumes
  41. How to Manage BitLocker Keys on a Local Computer
  42. How to Manage BitLocker from the Command Line
  43. How to Recover Data Protected by BitLocker
  44. How to Disable or Remove BitLocker Drive Encryption
  45. How to Decommission a BitLocker Drive Permanently
  46. How to Prepare AD DS for BitLocker
  47. How to Configure a Data Recovery Agent
  48. How to Manage BitLocker with Group Policy
  49. The Costs of BitLocker
  50. Windows 7 Encrypting File System
  51. How to Export Personal Certificates
  52. How to Import Personal Certificates
  53. How to Grant Users Access to an Encrypted File
  54. Symbolic Links
  55. How to Create Symbolic Links
  56. How to Create Relative or Absolute Symbolic Links
  57. How to Create Symbolic Links to Shared Folders
  58. How to Use Hard Links
  59. Disk Quotas
  60. How to Configure Disk Quotas on a Single Computer
  61. How to Configure Disk Quotas from a Command Prompt
  62. How to Configure Disk Quotas by Using Group Policy Settings
  63. Disk Tools
  64. EFSDump
  65. SDelete
  66. Streams
  67. Sync
  68. MoveFile and PendMoves