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Your Guide on How to Back Up Your Windows PC

Articles • June 14, 2022

We are living in the era of the internet and data, and our PC contains a lot of data. This data is very essential to us, from our family pictures, saved videos, applications, games, professional files, personal documents, and much more.

Ever thought about how much trouble it would cause if you lost this data with no backup at all. Think about it, and I didn’t realize it till I lost it once. Since then, I have always remembered to backup all my files regularly.

Besides always having a copy of your files in case they are lost, backups are very useful in preventing ransomware attacks. If you didn’t know, ransomware attacks block your access to your data and ask for hefty sums (ransom) to let you access it. Keeping a backup prevents this since you always have second or even more copies of your data, so you won’t need to pay the ransom.

Moreover, cloud backups, which we will discuss later in detail, help keep files in sync and can be accessed from anywhere. Too many benefits, right?

Don’t worry, as I have more than just these benefits for you here, so check out this guide and attain all the amazing benefits.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to Mac Backup

Types of backups (based on extent)

Before telling you How to back up your Windows PC, you need to understand the extent of the backup you want to make

Full Back Up

It might have been clear from the name that a Full Backup backups all the files in the system. The backup size in such types is equal to the consumed disk space, i.e., if the disk has consumed space of 150GB, then the backup size will also be 150GB. Great to restore all files as well as individual files as per requirements.

System Image Backup

A System Image is a clone of the entire system drive, including your Windows Operating System. The System Image size is usually less than the size of a Full Backup because it only considers the Home drive. Since the System Image is the exact copy of your PC, including Windows, upon restoration on a new PC, all the previous files will be deleted.

Continuous Backups

Continuous Backups are a little different. Different in the sense that they automatically backup files after a fixed interval, set by you, of course. Continuous backups can be used to prepare full backups, but it’s not a viable option since a lot of changes are made to the system daily, and tracking and uploading them is too hectic. Therefore, they are used for selected files and folders only.

Types of Windows backups (based on destination)

There are two types of backups, online and offline, which you can prepare. Both have their pros and cons. So, let’s discuss them before proceeding further.

Local backups

Local Backups or Offline Backups are saved on storage devices or drives. The storage devices can be an SSD, HDD, USB Flash drive, CDs, Blu-rays, NAS, etc. This implies that you can use any storage device to store your backup. The speed of saving the backup and its restoration depends on the type of your device.

Pros

  • Does Not require an Internet connection
  • Backup and Restoration are Fast
  • One-Time Investment for a Storage Device
  • Fast file access

Cons

  • For restoration, you always need your storage device
  • The backup might get deleted if the storage device has problems

Cloud backups

Cloud Backups or Online Backups use internet connections to backup files to cloud servers. You might have heard of OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox. These cloud drives help backup and sync files on most devices. Though they are the leaders when we consider online storage services, backing up files using such drives is a little hectic. Therefore, we will later talk about some dedicated cloud backup tools that make your task much easier.

Pros

  • Always available for access, no storage device problems
  • Data is encrypted with the latest encryption algorithms
  • A second copy of data is saved on a different server
  • Good for continuous Backups

Cons

  • Requires internet connectivity
  • Limited transfer allowance problems with some providers

RELATED: The Best Personal Cloud Backup Service

How to back up your Windows PC locally

There are so many ways to Locally back up a Windows PC. You can use the built-in backup and System Image tools in Windows or can also go for third-party tools. Third-party tools will have the upper hand because they are specially designed for this purpose and to tackle any lack of built-in tools. Here we will detail built-in backup techniques and mention a few great third-party tools.

1. Windows default backup tool

The default backup tools in Windows allow Full backups, System Image Creation, and Continuous Backups. To perform these, the first step is to connect a backup device and turn on File History. Let’s see the steps for this.

  1. Connect your USB, SSD, NAS, or other devices to your PC.
  2. Go to Control Panel, search for File History, and click on the first option.
  3. File History will start searching for the connected Drive. When the options appear, click on Turn On.

On the left sidebar, you will see a set of options to Change the Drive, Restore Files, Advanced Settings, and Exclude Folders. Now it might be clear from their names what their purpose is. Still, let’s see how to add and remove folders from backup.

  1. Click on Exclude Folder. It will direct you to Backup.
  2. Click on More Options.
  3. You will see different options. Back up my Files sets the time interval for the backup. You can choose depending on how often you make changes to your files.
  1. Keep my backups set the time for which the backup will be kept saved.
  2. Add a folder is used to add a folder to the backup list.
  3. Click on the name and the Remove to remove the folder from the backup. Or you can scroll down and add the folder to Exclude folder

2. System Image Backup

Using this tool, you can also create a Full Windows Backup. To perform a Bootable System Image Backup, follow these mentioned steps.

  1. Open Control Panel and search for Backup and Restore. Click on the first option that appears.
  2. On the left sidebar, click on Create a system image. It will start searching for drives.
  1. Make sure your storage device is NTFS. Otherwise, you won’t be able to back up to it.
  1. Select your Drive and click on Next. Now choose the files you want to add to your backup and start the backup.

This might take some time, wait until it is complete, and then you have successfully created a System Image of your PC.

3. Third-party tools

Third-party tools are way easy to perform backups. They have a simple UI, easy-to-understand process, and better guides and support. They can perform all types of backup and are faster than Windows Default programs. Besides, they offer much more selection options for better file management. So, if you are not that tech-savvy, go for third-party PC backup tools. Some of the best ones available are: –

  1. Acronis Cyber Protect Home
  2. EaseUS Todo Backup Home
  3. Genie Timeline Pro

Some key points for taking Local Backups: –

  • Your drive should be NTFS formatted.
  • The drive should have at least 50GB more space than the backup size.
  • Make sure you do not disconnect the drive in between the process.
  • Make sure your system is on a charge, as backup might take a long time.
  • Keep in mind that File History Continuous Backups require the device to be connected at the time of each backup.

How to back up your Windows PC to Cloud

Cloud-based backups have different features and are easier than taking Local Backups. Once set up, you only need to connect to the internet for backups. Windows has Microsoft OneDrive, and even Dropbox installed in Windows 11.

They are great for taking backups file and folder backups since they are more accustomed. However, setting them up for complete backups is very hectic. Moreover, they have limited space. Therefore, we use different services dedicated to backups, such as IDrive and Backblaze.

1. IDrive

IDrive is one of the best cloud backup tools which I personally use. The best feature about IDrive is that it allows both online and offline backups. It is price effective, easy to use, and has a simple UI. Besides, it also allows server backups like Microsoft 365, Share Point, Oracle, etc.

Pros

  • Multi-Device backups with a single subscription.
  • 30-day deleted data restore
  • 256-bit AES Encryption with 2FA verification
  • Continuous Data Backup and Protection
  • Computer Clone Backup
  • Both offline and online backups
  • Real-Time file sync
  • Web-based console to manage data

Cons

  • Login issues sometimes
  • A little slow while searching for backup files

It has all types of plans, starting at $4.95/year for 100GB and $29.62/year for 2TB. Besides, it also has up to 10TB plans and business plans.

2. Backblaze

Backblaze is another awesome tool for taking cloud backups. Backblaze is specially dedicated to taking easy backups for PC, i.e., it is not available for smartphones and iOS devices. However, you can use its application to access your backed-up data.

Pros

  • Unlimited Data and Filetypes
  • Quick and Easy file Restores
  • Secure encryptions
  • Has a private encryption key for additional security
  • 2FA verification
  • Easiest Cloud Backup

Cons

  • The subscription plan is a little too costly if you don’t have much data to backup
  • Available only for Windows and Mac

Backblaze Personal is available at $7/month, $70 yearly, and $130 for two years.

Besides these, you can also go for Acronis True Image, SpiderOak One, and other software if you prefer them.

Some key points for taking Cloud Backups: –

  • Your cloud storage should have enough space.
  • Choose secure cloud services.
  • You should not be on a metered network, i.e., you should not be on a limited data pack.
  • Choose cloud services with Transfer Limit much more than the backup size.
  • Make sure your subscription is active.

What should you include in your backup?

Now that you know what backups are, how they help, and how to take backups in different ways, it should be particularly easy to decide and understand which files you need to back up. Here is a small list of essential files that might be helpful.

  • User data – Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures
  • Office Files
  • Password files
  • Product/License key files
  • Downloads
  • Emails
  • Internet Browser data
  • Other important location

Do not include Program files, drivers, and in-depth system files if you are not doing a System Image Backup because they won’t be restored while restoring.

Are Cloud Backup and Cloud Sync the same?

No, Cloud Backup and Cloud Sync are different. Cloud Sync deletes the files if they are deleted from the system, while Cloud Backups keep them saved unless you manually delete them. There are a lot of other differences which we won’t be talking about here.

Conclusion

As we move towards the end of this article, I would like to suggest you keep at least one backup of your PC, not just your PC but other devices too. You never know when you might lose them. It can be any type of backup, offline or online.

Both online and offline backups have their upper and lower hands, so your choice depends on the way you feel secure and comfortable. We suggest you go for multiple backups, one local and one cloud, if you manage it.

Truly said, you should make up your mind to pay for backup tools, since in this case, prevention is only what you can do, because if data is lost, there is no cure to retrieve it completely.