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How to backup Windows 7 questions

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I have an external 1tb drive that has some media on it and earlier today I thought my ssd crashed. My comp would try to boot up then could not and I think it couldn't recognize my ssd because it asked me to reboot or boot up with removable media. Suddenly, 5 hours later it boots up. So I want to know how to backup windows 7. I know there is a utility installed to do that but will it format my ext hdd so that it can only be a backup drive?(what time machine on OSX does If i remember right.)
Should I use a different(has to be free) utility?
Again, If I can back it up, would I be able to have my media and the windows back up?
Oh, and If you can suggest a reason why my ssd suddenly showed up then have at it, I have a feeling it will be a RMA though. BTW I did switch out sata 6 GB/s cables but that didn't help it boot.
Thanks!
Saibot
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Saibot
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2500k Asus P8Z68 V-PRO EVGA GTX 570 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X CL7 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
1TB WD Caviar Black and Crucial 128GB C300 Pioneer Bluray burner Windows 7 Pro 23.6" Acer GD235HZ 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech MX-5500 Seasonic X750 CM HAF-X Logitech MX-Revolution 
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post #2 of 2
The included Windows 7 back up utility is actually great, I'm using it right now with my external and no it does not format your HDD so it can only be used as a backup drive.

The included back up utility makes the back up on your HDD (and you can even choose what you want to back up, or have Windows automatically do it) and you'll see the back up as two files, one is the main backup file and it's named whatever you named your PC, and the second is a 1KB .bin file named MediaID.bin.
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