How to back up Windows 10
Back-ups are a vital element of any careful user’s routine. Nevertheless, there’s nothing quite like that feeling when you realize that all your work, all those memories, have just disappeared into the digital cloud. Here’s how to guard your important files with the backup features built into Windows 10.
Data is an expensive thing. Be it personal files, photos, music, or a download of an OS, it’s always prudent to create safe support for your files to avoid disaster. Backups are essential to protect against these – and more – risks. Here we’ll show you how to protect against data loss by using the built-in tools that come with Windows 10, as well as other options, including cloud storage services.
How to back up Windows 10: What is a backup?
More often than not, your friends will keep telling you to back up your PC. This is not an easy task. There are two types of back up that you can use to safeguard your important data.
First and foremost is the file backup. This option allows you to make copies of data or the files that you have stored on your PC. These files or data could be personal or purely business. It is, therefore, mandatory for every PC owner to have an external hard disk drive where you store copies of these files in case they are deleted or lost accidentally.
The next type of backup is known as the system backup. This type of backup is more sophisticated as it engages making a backup of the Windows OS, plus all your programs, files, and settings. Use this type of backup if your PC is misbehaving or it stops working altogether.
Windows 10 like all previous versions of Windows has a number of inbuilt features that allow you to execute both simple file backups and more inclusive system backups. These features can be a bit baffling, though,
How to backup Windows 10: File History
There are diverse ways to create backups in Windows 10. One of the simplest is a feature called File History, which will let you make standard, scheduled copies of the personal data on your PC and store it on an external drive. This is also a risky method in view of the fact that if anything should go wrong with your PC or the internal hard drive will take that back up with it also.
It is advisable to have at least one external back for your vital files and this should be kept in a separate location away from the others.
To set up File History you’ll need to open the Start Menu and click on Settings. In the menu that appears select Update & Security and then click on the Backup section to view the related options.
On the right side of the panel you’ll see a part entitled Backup Using File History, and under this is an option to Add A Drive. Click on the Plus (+) symbol subsequently, and you’ll see a list of any external hard drives that are linked to your PC. If you don’t have a drive connected you’ll find that you can’t do anything.
If you have several drives connected then you can just click on the one that you want to use. When you return to the Backup section now you’ll see that the option has changed from Add A Drive to Automatically Back Up My Files and that this option is switched on by default.
You can turn this option off or on whenever you want to, but it’s best to leave it on so that future backup automatically takes place at regular intervals. You can also specify how often your File History backups take place, and which specific files and folders are included in your backups. Click the heading labeled More Options and you’ll be taken to a new window that contains several useful features.
By default, File History creates backups of your files once hourly, but if you want it to start immediately then you can just click the button marked Back Up Now to make your first backup. Right underneath that is a pull-down menu that allows you to specify how often your backups take place. This can range from every 10 minutes to just once a day, but the default hourly backups are probably fine for most people. Making regular backups of all your files can take up a lot of space on your external hard drive so there’s a second pull-down menu that tells File History how long it should keep all those backups. The default option is to keep them forever – better safe than sorry, after all – but you can vary this from one month to two years if you want. You can also tell Windows 10 to delete older backups automatically if your external hard drive gets full and you need to free up some space for newer backups.
When it’s creating a backup, File History automatically copies all the folders that are part of your main User Account on your PC, such as Music, Photos and Videos (to view the folders in your User Account just go to the Users folder on your main C: drive and click the folder that has your personal account name – ie C:/Users/Pete). However, you can also make backups of files that are stored in other folders too. Just click ‘Add A Folder’ to open a file browser window that allows you to select the folders you want.
If you ever need to locate a file from your backup drive then you can just click on the Start Menu in the Windows 10 taskbar and type ‘File History’ into the Search bar. In the list of search results you’ll see an option labeled ‘Restore Your Files With File History’, and when you click on this you’ll open a window that displays all the folders that are backed-up onto your external hard drive.
The thing to note here, though, is that there’s a set of Forward and Back controls at the bottom of this window, similar to the playback controls that you’ll find on any music or video player. These allow you to step backwards and forwards through all the backups you’ve made in recent weeks and months. This means that you can go right back and locate files that you might have deleted many months ago. You can also use it to recover and compare different versions of a file that you may have worked on and edited over a period of time, which is really useful.
There are, of course, dozens of backup programs and software – both free and paid-for – that can assist with file backups, but these options that are built into File History in Windows 10 should be completely sufficient for general day-to-day use. Most hard drives also come with their own backup software that is incorporated in the price of the drive, so you generally don’t need to worry about finding or buying any other backup software for this type of simple file backup.