Maintaining an operating system is an ongoing task that might not seem as exciting or interesting as performing a new installation or replacing a hard disk, but it is actually one of the most crucial tasks for a support technician. System maintenance is important for two reasons; ﬁrst, proper maintenance can prevent system problems from arising. Second, proper maintenance of the system, including the creation of appropriate backups, can make recovery or troubleshooting operations much easier in the event that problems do arise.
Backup and Restore
Data backup is a system maintenance task that enables you to store copies of critical data for safekeeping. Backups protect against loss of data due to disasters such as ﬁle corruption or hardware failure. Data restoration is a system recovery task that enables you to access the backed-up data. Restored data does not include any changes made to the data after the backup operation. Data backups can be accomplished simply by copying individual ﬁles and folders to a local or network location or by using dedicated software and hardware to back up large amounts of data. Large backups are usually stored on specialized backup media such as magnetic tape.
Figure: Backup and restore.
Backups should be performed systematically and on a regular basis for the best protection against data loss. Most large organizations will implement a structured backup scheme that includes a backup schedule and speciﬁcations for which ﬁles are backed up, where the backup is stored, and how it can be retrieved. The backup scheme will specify the backup rotation method, which determines how many backup tapes or other media sets are needed, and the sequence in which they are used and reused. Designated administrators will have the responsibility for designing and managing the backup scheme and for restoring data when needed.
The Windows Backup Utility
The built-in Windows Backup utility enables you to back up and restore ﬁles on local and remote Windows systems. It is included in Windows NT variants, but not in Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows Server®2008. Windows Backup stores data in backup sets on a wide variety of backup media types, including hard and ﬂoppy disks, tape drives, and other compact storage media. Backup sets can be stored in single ﬁles or can be spread across one or more backup media.
Figure: Windows Backup in Windows XP.
Tips: There are also many third-party backup utilities available for backing up and restoring data on Windows computers.
Windows Backup supports a variety of backup types
Copy : Selected ﬁles, without marking them as backed up by clearing the Archive ﬁle attribute.
Daily : Files modiﬁed the day the backup is performed, without marking them as backed up.
Differential : Files changed since the last normal or incremental backup, without marking them as backed up.
Incremental : Files changed since the last normal or incremental backup, marking them as backed up.
Normal : Selected ﬁles, marking them as backed up. (This type of backup is also known as a “full” backup.)
You must be a member of the Backup Operators group, be a ﬁle owner, or have at least Read NTFS permissions to back up ﬁle data.
Windows Backup Limitations
There are a couple of limitations you should be aware of when using the Microsoft Windows Backup utility. First, it supports only ﬂoppy drives, tape drives, hard drives, or external drives (Zip, USB, IEEE 1394 [FireWire]). There is no direct support for writable CDs or DVDs. The only way to make use of these is to back up to the hard drive ﬁrst, and then manually transfer to a DVD or CD.
Windows Backup and Restore Center
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 include a different backup utility called Backup and Restore. Backup and Restore allows for automatic scheduled backup of ﬁles, or complete PC backup, depending on the version of Windows 7 being used.
Figure : Backup and Restore
The Backup System Image
The Create a system image option in the Backup and Restore Center of Windows 7 allows you to make a backup of the entire working Windows 7 partition. If problems occur, then you can use the backup image to recover the operating system. Windows 7 allows you to select from possible destinations for the backup: hard disk, DVD, or a network location based on the availability of the required hardware or resource.
The Create a system repair disc option in the Backup and Restore Center of Windows 7 allows you to create a system disc that can be used to boot the system in case of a system boot failure. It contains utilities that can be used to recover the system.
Backup and Restore Within Windows 7 Versions
All editions of Windows 7 support backing up and restoring of ﬁles. However, Windows 7 Home Premium cannot save backed up ﬁles to a network location.
System State Data
You can use the Windows Backup utility to back up System State data on most Windows computers, up to Windows XP. The System State is a subset of crucial system components that is backed up as a unit. On Windows XP Professional systems, the System State data consists of:
- Boot ﬁles.
- System ﬁles protected by Windows File Protection.
- The Registry.
- And, COM+ object registrations, a database of program components that are shared between applications.
Tips: Backing up the System State data requires approximately 400 MB of space. You must back it up to a tape, a folder on the local computer, or a shared folder on a server.
Windows File Protection (WFP) is a Windows XP Professional system service that automatically maintains backup copies of key system ﬁles. Files protected by WFP include all SYS, DLL, TTF, FON, OCX, and EXE ﬁles installed by Windows Setup. If a key boot ﬁle or a Boot- or System-level driver or service is altered or deleted, WFP simply replaces the ﬁle from a backup copy, either from the hidden %systemroot%\ System32\ Dllcache folder or from the Windows XP Professional installation media.
You might see a Windows Protection error if a driver or service under Windows File Protection fails to load. This generally occurs at startup.
System State Backup Set
In Windows XP, backing up the System State is the only way to back up and restore the Registry. You cannot remove any items from the System State backup set. You must have administrative privileges to back up and restore the System State, and you cannot back up or restore the System State remotely. In Windows 7, you must complete a complete PC backup to save all system state ﬁles.
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