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How do you backup your computer? Windows and Mac drive backup

One of the most common mistakes you might’ve experienced is losing the contents of your PC due to unforeseen circumstances and being unable to recover any of it because you didn’t back it up. If your hard drive fails or you have a malware attack, you can rest assured that everything will be just fine if you took the necessary precautions to back up your PC.

Not sure what to back up? You can start with personal files like your home videos, photos, music library, and important documents that would be difficult to recover. Personal files should be backed up often. You can also back up your operating system, programs, and other settings that you deem necessary. Backing up your computer frequently and making it a priority will save you money and time in the event of an emergency.

There are several ways to back up your system including online and local backup. It’s recommended that you have at least three copies of all your important files — the original, the backup, and the backup’s backup. A combination of online and local backups will protect you from 99 percent of potential data loss.

Screen shot of  Windows 10 File History

A local or onsite backup is one kept physically at your location such as backing up to an external hard drive which is faster, easier, and much more secure. Windows provides a simple solution to back up your data called Windows Backup. It’s known as Restore in Windows 7 and File History in Windows 10.

How to Setup File History Backups in Windows 10:

  1. Connect your external SSD or hard drive that you would like to use as your backup drive to your computer.
  2. Make sure that your external HDD or SSD you would is the same capacity or larger than the internal drive you are going to back up by right clicking on it in the Navigation Pane on the left and selecting Properties. Note the free space amount. Next do the same thing for the C drive and note the Used space amount. Make sure the free space on your backup drive is larger than the used space on your C drive.
  3. Click the Windows Start button in the lower left corner of the screen and select Settings (the gear icon) and then Update & Security (the two curved arrows icon) and then Backup in the left column. Or you can just type Backup in the search filed in the lower left corner and select Backup settings.
  4. Click + button next to "Add a drive" and click on that drive you had just connected which will be listed under "Select a Drive." Now File History is enabled.
  5. Next set how frequently you would like the backup to run. Click the "More options" button and pick a frequency (Every hour, Every 3 hours, Daily, etc.).
  6. Next select duration you would like to keep the backups under "Keep my backups" if you would not like it to be Forever, which is the default such as select 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, etc.).
  7. You can click "Back up now" to start the first backup. When it is done you will see the backup's date, time and size listed.
Screen shot of MacOS Time Machine

How to Setup a Time Machine Backups on MacOS:

  1. Connect a MacoOS formatted HDD or SSD you would like to use as a backup to your Mac. If it is the first time connecting that drive, MacOS will show a dialog box asking if you would like to use the drive for Time Machine. If that happens you can click “Use as a Backup Disk.” If it is not the first time using the drive with your Mac, go to the Apple menu and click on System Preferences… and click Time Machine.
  2. Click Select a Backup Disk and choose the disk you have connected from the list. The Time Machine switch on the left should now be set to “ON” or it may have “Backup Automatically” checked depending on the MacOS version.
  3. You can select “Backup Now” from the Time Machine menu at the top of the screen or just wait for it to backup with the time is has scheduled where it says Next Backup. Also note the details of the backup disk such as space available, oldest backup date and last backup date which are listed here when the backup drive is connected. Under the Options button you can select preferences like backup frequency, folders to exclude and more.

An offsite backup is anytime your files are stored somewhere other than your current system location. Technically, this could be a hard drive you keep at a friend’s house, but it usually means backing up your system online. Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive are convenient, low-cost options that have sync options to automatically sync your most important files. Depending on how much data you plan on backing up, you may need to purchase a data plan. You can use your chosen storage platform’s software to set your preferences. Your data will be backed up according to your preferences whenever you’re connected to the internet.

A more comprehensive and secure way to back up your entire system is to use a disk image or ghost image. You will need specific software to do this. There are free options like Macrium Reflect and EaseUS for hard drives 1TB or less along with paid options like Acronis True Image. Find the right backup and recovery software for you and do your research like reading reviews and watching videos to see if it accommodates your needs. Mac users can use the Disk Utility app to make a disk image.

The bottom line is backing up your computer is an easy and simple process that will save you a lot of money and time just in case something happens to your computer. Making it a priority and taking the time to back up your memory and storage frequently are great protective and preventive measures from having your data lost or stolen. Overall, it’s a great habit to get into especially if you work with a lot of sensitive personal or business-related information.


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