Many people don’t realize this, but there is actually a free backup utility already on your computer. It’s called Windows Backup and Restore, and it is already installed and ready to use on your Windows machine, whether you’re running XP, Vista, or 7 operating systems.

(If you’re on a Mac, your included backup utility is called Time Machine.)

Today, I’ll explain how you can use this free program to backup your computer.

Setting Up Your Backup With Windows Backup and Restore

The first thing you will need is an external hard drive or similar device on which to keep your backups. Once you have that, the backup process is very simple.

[Suggested product: WD Elements Portable 2TB Drive, $60 on]

Now just plug the drive in to your USB port and wait for the dialog box to pop up. Windows should recognize the drive, and it will ask you if you would like to setup backup. Click yes.

If you don’t get that prompt, just open Backup and Restore manually by clicking “Start,” choosing “Control Panel,” then selecting “Backup and Restore” from the list.

Next, click the “Set Up Backup” button.

All you have to do after this is follow the on-screen instructions to choose what files to backup and where to store them (e.g. on your external hard drive.) Once those options are configured, you’ll click “Save Settings and Run Backup” to actually do the backup process.

When that’s all done, you will have a backup stored on your external hard drive!

Setting Up Restore Points

The function I like, even more than the backup, is the ability to set restore points. Setting up a restore point allows you to “restore” your computer to an earlier version with one click.

This is great if you install some software that screws up your system – you just revert back to a previous restore point.

To set up a restore point, go to Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System. In the left menu, click “System protection.”

A window will pop up, and at the bottom, you want to click the “Create” button. Just enter a nickname for the restore point and click “Create” again. That’s it!

If it’s necessary to restore your system later, just open System Restore from the Start menu and follow the steps they give you.

Windows Backup and Restore FAQ

Is it easy to use? Yes, it’s very easy to use.

Does it work well? It works, but it lacks the advanced features of a program like Acronis True Image.

It it a substitute for remote backup? No.

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