Backup overview

The Backup utility helps you protect data from accidental loss if your system experiences hardware or storage media failure. For example, you can use Backup to create a duplicate copy of the data on your hard disk and then archive the data on another storage device. The backup storage medium can be a logical drive such as your hard drive, or a separate storage device such as a removable disk, or an entire library of disks or tapes organized into a media pool and controlled by a robotic changer. If the original data on your hard disk is accidentally erased or overwritten, or becomes inaccessible because of a hard disk malfunction, you can easily restore the data from the archived copy.

Backup creates a volume shadow copy of your data to create an accurate point-in-time copy of the contents of your hard drive, including any open files or files that are being used by the system. Users can continue to access the system while the backup utility is running without risking loss of data.

For more information on volume shadow copies, see Volume shadow copy overview

Using Backup, you can:

  • Archive selected files and folders on your hard disk.

  • Restore the archived files and folders to your hard disk or any other disk you can access.

  • Use Automated System Recovery to save and restore all the system files and configuration settings needed to recover from a complete system failure.

  • Make a copy of any Remote Storage data and any data stored in mounted drives

  • Make a copy of your computer's System State, which includes the system files, the registry, Component Services, the Active Directory database, and the Certificate Services database.

  • Make a copy of your computer's system partition, boot partition, and the files needed to start up your system in case of computer or network failure.

  • Schedule regular backups to keep your archived data up-to-date.

You can use Backup to back up and restore data on either file allocation table (FAT) or NTFS file system volumes. However, if you have backed up data from an NTFS volume used in Windows XP, it is recommended that you restore the data to an NTFS volume used in Windows XP. If you do not, you could lose data as well as some file and folder features such as permissions, encrypting file system (EFS) settings, disk quota information, mounted drive information, and Remote Storage information.


  • Backup performs simple media management functions, for example, formatting. More complicated management tasks such as mounting and dismounting a tape or disk are done by a service called Removable Storage. For more information on Removable Storage, see
  • Removable Storage Overview