One mistake doesn’t need to leave you with an unusable computer. Using Windows 7’s built-in tools, you can preserve and reinstate whole hard drives with just a few clicks.
You’ve undoubtedly heard it a million times (probably some 900,000 of which came from us): Back up your data! And that’s advice you should absolutely follow. But simple backups aren’t always enough for a Windows 7 system. You might be hit with a catastrophic virus attack, accidentally delete a critical system file, or mess with the wrong hard drive partition and find that your PC will no longer boot. At that point, no number of external hard drives loaded with copies of your photo and MP3 collections will get you up and running again.
That’s why, in addition to backing up individual files and folders of particular value, you should also stock your arsenal with more powerful system recovery weapons. You can buy software that will take care of this for you—Norton Ghost is a classic, powerful product—but Windows 7 has some built-in utilities that will provide an additional layer of security and not cost you one penny more. You’ll need a bit of time, some free drive space (or blank DVDs), but the peace of mind you get in return will be well worth that investment.
How to Find Windows 7’s Repair and Restore Tools
1. Click on the Window icon (aka the “Start button”) on your taskbar, over at the far left end if the taskbar is in its default location at the bottom of your display.
2. Click Control Panel.
3. Under the “System and Security” heading in the Control Panel window, click “Back up your computer.” Note: If you haven’t set up Windows 7 to back up your data yet, this is a good place to do that, too!
4. In the upper-right corner of the “Back up or restore your files” window, you’ll see two options: “Create a system image” and “Create a system repair disc.” Click on the one that corresponds to the action you want to perform; keep reading for additional details about what they do and how to use them.