There are literally scores of outstanding third-party utilities that can create a backup. Microsoft apparently agreed with this sentiment, so they eventually bought one. The Backup Utility that stars in this chapter was created by Veritas software and is included in Microsoft's Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003 operating systems.
The Backup Utility has but one function: it backs up all the data you select and stores it in a single file. The Backup Utility gives this file an extension of .bkf. You can then store that .bkf file at the destination of your choice, be it a tape drive, removable disks such as a CD-R or CD-RW, or any shared location on the network. Obviously, storing the backup file on the same computer you're backing up isn't a good idea; if the drive fails, you will have lost the backup as well. I know, you think I wouldn't have to mention that, but you'd be surprised what I see in the field.
The Backup Utility operates in two modes: the Wizard mode and the Advanced mode, and actually they aren't all that different. It is one of XP's System tools, which you will find by clicking Start Menu | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Backup.
As shown in Figure 13-1, the Utility is launched in the Wizard mode (called the Backup or Restore Wizard). It will start in this mode every time unless you clear the "Always start in wizard mode" check box.
Figure 13-1. Backup or Restore Wizard at the Welcome screen.
If you use the wizard, it's just a matter of answering a few questions: what do you want to back up, where do you want to keep the backup, and what do you want to call the backup file? That's really all there is to it.