Microsoft Backup, Backing Up Windows 98 Step By Step

Developing your Backup Strategy

You wouldn’t believe how many computer users don’t bother creating an overall backup strategy, that is until it’s too late! Developing a backup and restoration strategy is easy enough to do and it doesn’t have to be elaborate.

The key is to develop a strategy and then stick to it!

It really comes down to this, either doing it now while its relatively easy to do and your data is intact, or doing it later. Doing it later means cleaning off your hard drive, reinstalling all of your software and then recreating everything that you lost.

A realistic strategy should focus on these issues:

  • Available backup hardware.
  • The amount of time you’re willing to devote to doing adequate backups.
  • And ultimately how much work you’re willing to lose in the event of a severe system crash.

What type of Backup formats should you use?

There are three principle types of backups formats you can use, and this table outlines those for you:

Type Description
Full Backup Backs up every file selected and marks files as having been backed up.
Incremental Backs up every file created or changed since the last full or differential backup and only marks files that have been created or changed since the previous backup as having been backed up.
Differential Backs up every file created or changed since the last full or differential backup and doesn’t mark files as having been backed up.

Okay, back to configuring the backup type:

  • Select the Options button from the Backup utility main screen.
  • You will see the Backup Job Options dialogue box.
  • Now click the Type tab to see the options.

Now you can select either “All selected files” or “New and changed files only” as well as select a “Differential backup type” or an “Incremental backup type”.

Click Show Me to see an example!

  • If you select the “All Selected Files” option, Microsoft Backup will perform a full backup of just about every file on your system. Keep in mind though, that backups and subsequent restorations will be somewhat slow due to the volume of data to be processed.
  • If you select the “New and Changed Files Only” option, you also need to choose either the differential or incremental backup option. A differential backup saves new or changed files to your backup device and doesn’t mark them as having been backed up. This means that if you create a file on Monday and perform a differential backup that night, and then you perform another differential backup on Tuesday, whether you have changed the file or not it will be backed up on both days. An incremental backup saves every file created or changed since the last full or differential backup and marks the files as having been backed up.

    Using the previous example, if you create a file on Monday and perform an incremental backup that night, that file will be backed up and marked as having been backed up. If you perform another incremental backup on Tuesday, that same file will not be backed up unless it has changed (been edited) since the Monday night backup. This means that subsequent incremental backups will take less time to run because only new or changed files will be backed up.

Should you set a schedule for your backups?

There is a need to be realistic when developing your backup strategy as well a determining a backup schedule. If we all lived in a perfect high-speed world we would have lightning-fast unlimited size backup units attached to our computers that would allow us to do full system backups several times a day, every day, in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately though, the reality is that system backups take time. Today, on newer computer systems that have tons of disk space, a full backup can take many hours. Therefore you might want to consider the following strategies, modifying them as necessary to support your own environment.

Full System Backup
(everything)
Once every other month, alternating sets
Data Backup
(user files)
Once a month, alternating sets

The idea of creating alternating backup sets comes from the ever-present Murphy’s Law, perched ready and waiting to intervene when you need to a restore important data. By alternating sets (Backup set 1 & Backup set 2, or whatever you choose), you ensure that you don’t overwrite a good backup with a bad one. Multiple sets also help prevent against loss of data due to tape or backup media failure or some other form of mishap.

If you create a lot of files or create very large and detailed documents, the following schedule may be necessary.

Full System Backup
(Everything)
Once a month, alternating sets
Data Backup
(user files)
Every day, alternating sets

If you test software or make allot of changes that effect the Windows Registry, then you may want to consider this schedule.

Full System Backup
(Everything)
Every evening, or at least every
other evening in alternating sets
Data Backup
(user files)
Every day, alternating sets

Full system backups are recommended for heavy users, but these recommendations are meant only as guidelines and should be modified to fit your particular circumstances. Each user should create a schedule of system and data backups that make the most sense for their particular situation.

Which files should you back up?

A backup strategy depends greatly on how you use your computer and ultimately depends on how much data you will be willing to lose in the event of a disaster.

For those users whose system data changes infrequently, such as only during an operating system or application upgrade, for example, as a safeguard, you should back up your entire system before performing any such upgrade. If time is an issue, and there are no alternatives, then concentrate on personal data rather than installed software. It’s much easier to reinstall an application than it is to re-create personal data such as documents, accounting information, pictures and music.

Organize your user files into folders in a common directory. This will ease backup and restore procedures. It’s much easier to back up one folder and its contents if you don’t have to search through all your subdirectories trying to find where you saved a particular file.

If we make the presumption that you have put all your personal files into one directory, then all you need to decide is how often to back up that directory. The advantage of backing up only data files is that these files are usually small compared to system data files and installed applications. If you change data only once or twice a week, you might only want to do data backups weekly or monthly. If you frequently change documents, on the other hand, you might want to back up your data more often. If you leave your computer running all of the time, then consider using Scheduler to schedule an unattended backup for you while you’re away from the machine.

When deciding which files to back up, you should consider the priority of the following kinds of data:

  • Files important to your system (operating system, Windows Registry, and application files)
  • Files that are important to you (personal documents, pictures, accounting data, etc.)

Always maintain a good reliable system backup!

Next, let’s work on Choosing the Right Backup Device

Back to the Beginning of Microsoft Backup? Click Here

Back to our Knowledge Center? Click Here

This page updated: 8/15/2000

About Dewwa Socc