It’s a fact of life that from time to time things go wrong with computers. Hard disks physically fail or software crashes and deletes essential files or folders and you can’t restart without wiping the disk and starting again.

You can easily insure yourself against any loss however by using free tools that are built into Windows, there’s no need to invest in expensive backup software when everything you need is already there in Windows 8.

Making a copy of all the data on your disk is the only way to guarantee that any losses you suffer at the hands of a catastrophic system failure are kept to an absolute minimum. Ideally, you should backup everything you have every day. This isn’t as much of a pain as it may sound at first. You’ll need an external hard drive that’s as big or larger than the one in your laptop.

Go to Control Panel by going to the Search charm and typing Control Panel, click on the Control Panel option. Open Windows 7 File Recovery by clicking on it and then on Create a System Image. The first option is to choose where and how to create your backup. You can save the data to a hard disk plugged in to your computer or one on your network. If you really want you can backup to DVDs, but it will take a large number of disks to successfully copy all the data on a modern Windows hard disk. To schedule a regular backup go to Windows 7 File Recovery and click on Setup backup, once you’ve chosen your backup options create a schedule to automatically backup your PC.

Visit the Dell Tech Zone for more advice on family computing.