Windows Complete PC Backup creates a backup image, which contains copies of your programs, system settings, and files. The backup image is then stored in a separate location from the original programs, settings, and files. You can use this backup image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working. You should create a new Windows Complete PC Backup image every six months.


  • If your computer has more than one partition, you should run Windows Complete PC Backup shortly after you set up your computer. The backup should include all files and programs on all partitions. This gives you a backup image of your original computer configuration in case you ever need or want to restore your computer to that state. Save the backup image to a partition that Windows is not installed on, and also keep a backup on an external disk or set of DVDs, in case your computer’s hard disks are damaged.

To create a Windows Complete PC Backup image, your hard disk must be formatted to use the NTFS file system. Also, if you save the backup to an external hard disk, that disk must also be formatted to use the NTFS file system. For more information about NTFS, see Comparing NTFS and FAT file systems. The hard disk that you save the backup to must be a basic disk, not a dynamic disk. You can back up dynamic disks, but then you must back up all dynamic disks on the computer.


  • Only Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate support dynamic disks.


  • When you use a Windows Complete PC Backup image to restore your computer, it is a complete restoration. You can't choose individual items to restore, and all of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced. You should regularly back up your files using the Back Up Files wizard.

  1. Open Backup and Restore Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore Center.

  2. Click Back up computer, and then follow the steps in the wizard. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.


  • This type of backup can only be made on a CD, DVD, or hard disk. If you use CDs or DVDs, you will need a lot of them. The backup program will let you know if the storage type you choose has enough space for all of your programs, system settings, and files. If there isn't enough space, you'll need a storage type that can hold more data.