Win 7 Tip: Now You Can Choose Which Folders to Back Up and Create System Images

One revised feature in Windows 7 is the Backup utility. Previously with Vista, you could only designate types of files to back up. Now, you pick which folders to duplicate, plus export whole system images.

The new Backup and Restore looks pretty similar to the Vista version, where there's a welcome screen to choose backup or restore, and a prompt to choose a target drive before getting into the nitty gritty of data protection. But instead of a screen asking you what file types you want to back up, there's now a screen asking if you'd like windows to automatically choose the files to protect, or if you'd like to do it manually.

Letting Windows 7 back up your computer is a two click process. You click OK to launch the auto backup menu, and then you click OK to actually carry out the action. Manual backup, however, presents you with a tree menu that has check boxes next to each drive/directory/folder. From here, you can decide which folders are worthy of attention.

You can also create system images that automatically backup to an external drive with Windows 7, something you couldn't do with Vista. Previously, backups were limited only to data files that weren't system files, program files, or settings, but rather text docs, audio files, video files, and emails.

You still can't save individual program and system files with Windows 7, but you can have the computer create a whole image that can be used to restore you computer if your drive craps out.. This is done without asking in automatic backup if there's a proper amount of space, and is a checkbox option on the manual backup screen. It's also worth noting that Windows Backup still won't touch FAT formatted drives with a 39 and 1/2 foot pole.

It may not be as pretty or intuitive as Time Machine, but the levels of customization make it more functional than Apple's backup solution.