Windows 7 Backup Destination Types

When you perform system backups on Windows 7, you are prompted for a backup destination location as shown below:

You can select the following types of backup destinations:

Additional internal hard drives – As hard drives are getting larger in size and cheaper to buy, this option has become a good candidate for backup destination. It is an inexpensive and secure solution while provides fast I/O. It is important to note that, if your computer has two internal drives and you have configured dual-boot with an operating system on each drive, then you cannot use either of the hard drives as a backup destination.

External hard drives – Although external hard drives are more expensive than internal ones, they offer other benefits such as portability and better disaster recovery functionality. These drives can be removed and stored in a secure location. You need to factor in speed as these devices are in general slower than internal drives and you need to make sure that they are always connected if performing scheduled backup jobs. Also, some devices are powered by an external power source which adds an extra point of failure! It is important to note that many external drives are formatted using FAT due to compatibility issues. System Image backup cannot be saved on FAT systems but need to be converted to NTFS.

DVD-ROMs – Optical disks are inexpensive and can be archived in a secure location. You can back up to both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs but in practise a typical backup would need a large number of DVDs or CDs hence, making this option impractical. Note, that DVDs can become corrupted over time (years) and you cannot save scheduled System Image backups on DVDs.

USB flash drives – Flash drive memory is less expensive than hard drives and the available sizes are quite sufficient for personal data backups. Remember, that you cannot save System Image backups to flash memory but they are good candidates for offsite storage and portability. They are easy to lose or displace, so consider encrypting the data!

Network locations – This option is only available on computers running Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 7 Enterprise. You need to provide credentials so that Windows Backup can access the network and that the remote has enough storage space to contain the backup. Also, the network bandwidth or speed is an important factor you need to consider before going for this option.

VHDs – In Windows 7 you can specify a VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) as a backup location where you can carry out a System Image backup of an entire volume to a VHD disk image file. These disk image files can be made bootable on Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions. Note, that the VHD file should not be on the physical disk that you are backup up!

Note: Do not store your backups on a separate partition on a single hard drive on your computer.