PC gamers frequently have to erase their hard disk and install Windows fresh to recover game performance.

Windows has included a backup tool from Windows 2000 onwards. Problems with backwards compatibility can be dealt with using a virtual machine to run the previous version(s) of Windows as needed to restore files to a shared storage unit.


The old backup that shipped with Windows XP can be installed with Windows Vista and later to be able to open and restore files. For those with XP Home, it located on the Windows disk but its not installed.


Windows Vista and later use a newer tool. Generally it wants 1.5x more storage than the machine’s primary storage. For mobile machines with smaller disks the USB attached disk is generally adequate. For desktop machines, network attached storage products are now widely available.

The extra storage is for incremental backups.


In recent years, the introduction of larger capacity perpendicular recorded disks made the overhead of smaller 512 byte sectors to become a material limitation.

Modern high capacity disks now use 4096 bytes per sector. This has not been a major problem for backup tools which generally use standard files for backups. Windows Vista and above all support 4096 byte disks fine.


The backup tool with Windows is not very flexible making alternatives more desireable. We use the free 7-zip tool which can easily backup any folder.