Windows has had a pretty decent set of security tools for years, with firewall protection, virus scanning, and other features to help keep users safe from malware without the need for third-party software. And the built-in File History utility provides a decent way to backup your data to an external device for safe keeping.

But one thing Windows is still sorely lacking? A good backup and restore utility that make it easy to backup your apps and settings to the cloud and restore them when moving to a new computer or reinstalling Windows on your existing PC. That could soon change though: Microsoft has introduced a new Windows Backup app that will bring support for cloud backups to many parts of the Windows 11 experience.

An early version of Windows Backup is available now to members of the Windows Insider Preview program who are testing dev channel builds of Windows 11.

Microsoft says the goal is to make it easier for users to move to a new PC by restoring their apps and data in just a few minutes. If Windows Backup was installed on your old computer, all you should need to do when setting up a new computer is login with your Microsoft account information and use the restore function when setting up your new system, since it’s included in the out-of-box-experience (OOBE) starting with Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23466.

Microsoft says that, among other things, you can backup and restore system setting as well as Microsoft Store apps that are pinned to your Taskbar or Start Menu. Update: Microsoft added support for apps that aren’t from the Microsoft Store in a new build released on June 29, 2023. But the company also clarifies that the Backup and Restore app doesn’t actually reinstall apps – it just puts the pins on your desktop. Clicking on pins for Store apps will download them from the Microsoft Store, but clicking apps from other locations will take you to the website where you can download the installer (if Microsoft can identify that site). 

This is in addition to files backed up to OneDrive and WiFi network logins and other passwords saved to your account, which were already available to backup and restore.

Overall, the new Windows Backup and restore experience sounds very similar to the way that smartphones and Chromebooks have handled backing up and restoring data for years. It’s nice to see it finally coming to the desktop version of Windows.

Unfortunately there are limitations – Microsoft makes no mention of apps that aren’t downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and I have to imagine there’s good reason for that. While the company can clearly use the Microsoft Store to help re-download and install free and paid apps linked to your account, the company has much less control over software you may have downloaded from other sites on the internet or licenses you’ve purchased directly from other companies.

So while the new backup and restore process could theoretically let you set up a new computer just like your old one in minutes… things will certainly go most quickly if you’re only using apps from the Microsoft Store. And somehow I suspect that most Liliputing readers who are running Windows are using plenty of software from other sources.

It’s nice to know Windows will save your settings though.

via Windows Blogs 

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  1. No, I will not be uploading my entire hard drive to my OS vendor’s servers for them to analyze with GPT-4 and try to sell me something or sell me on something.

    1. Well, take GPT-4 out of that sentence, and I’d agree yeah. I wouldn’t trust third parties with my hdd contents. Remember the adage? Just because I have nothing to hide doesn’t mean I want to show you anything.

      Besides, whatever happened to the good old fashioned windows backup & restore? A basic install only takes a couple blank dvds and you’re done. And hey, locally stored.

      I’m just so glad I’m out of the windows ecosystem. I’ll just be ticked if my school requires it for other classes though (they have a contract with MS). I’ve been getting by just fine without it so far.

      1. Microsoft owns openAI (or a lot of it anyway), I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be sending random customer data to the latest version of its applications. Unless they’ve actually got better applications they use internally, but that’s a. harder to be sure of, and b. fewer people have as good a frame of reference for what its capabilities are compared to gpt-4/chatgpt.

        1. I understood what you were driving at, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility. If they wanted to peak inside everyone’s files, they probably already do it. Whether it’s to datamine or scan for CSAM or whatever, I really don’t know if they do.

          Even so, I presented a solution and one that I used for years. Just use Windows Backup & Restore. Easy peasy.

          And yes, Microsoft donated some 10 billion to OpenAI and are obviously heavily invested in it.

          I mean, I wouldn’t trust any corpo with my data, but obviously they are starting to push an online model for everything. There is an article out today on techspot about Windows 365 and booting your pc from the cloud (or is it into the cloud?). Obviously from a privacy and security standpoint that concerns me.

          But really why am I not surprised by this? Big tech doesn’t want you to be an island unto yourself any more. The day that I can’t run my computer locally is the day I give up computers. Plain and simple. I like having control over my own computer, tyvm.

          As with chatgpt, I couldn’t care less about it, or Bing, or Microsoft or big tech for that matter.