The first thing to do is to make sure you have your Windows XP fully updated. If you go into Start - All Programs, up at the very top of the list should be a "Windows Update" link. Make sure you're all updated.
Then once you've done that, go into Start - control panel, and into the add/remove programs area. There should be an option there to work with Windows components. Make sure the backup component is checked (it probably isn't). You might poke around in there and see what else you want to enable, there are lots of nifty Windows components that are very useful. That will then get backup running on your system!
I would say most people don't know how to back up their computers. Most people aren't computer savvy. My IT husband constantly has to recover data from failed hard drives and it's often the case that all the data can't be recovered. Important University research data goes bye bye all the time as well as dissertations.
I'm somewhat as bad. I back up what I'm working on currently on CD's every now and then. My biggest mistake I make is thinking my little USB memory stick can hold back up data forever! So I save to the hard drive and back up to the USB memory stick and I've done that for about 9 months now. Woops.
We have several XP systems in the house and they all have backup as a standard Windows icon - so maybe it's only the Dell specific version that they removed backup from because they want you to rely on their services? Odd!
Setting up a backup plan takes literally 10 minutes at the most - and it can save you MONTHS of work!!
Where was this piece of info when my PC was crashing (just before final death) Dell techs didn't seem to know this. Can you color me upset. I lost so many files and photos....irreplacable. I should sue them. I have since bought a back up device and it is so simple to use. Just plug it in and it does the work on its own. Now that's my kinda software. (for dummies)
My husband helped me install an online backup solution on my laptop. There are many now that are both affordable, simple and automatic.
I use www.kabooza.com which has a benefit that I can log into my account at work and look at the picures of my children and even send copies of them to family and friends.. But there are several others.
Don't lose all your photos like I did with our first son. I don't know what i will tell him when he gets older...