A data protection system that integrates a database with Windows Explorer in the Microsoft Windows 9X and NT Environments that mimics the Windows Explorer user interface, enabling the user to apply already known use paradigms. The data protection system appears as an extension to Windows Explorer and visibly appears as a folder item called the data vault. The data vault is a virtual disk that represents the underlying database. The database creates records and stores information about files backed up to removable secondary storage medium. Files may be backed up manually or automatically. A schedule can be set up for automatic protection of selected files and file types. The database can be searched to find files for restoration purposes without having to load secondary storage medium. Once a file or files are selected, the data protection system indicates which labeled removable secondary storage medium must be loaded for retrieval.