How To Back Up Your Computer

You never think losing your files will happen to you until it actually does, and you're caught without a backup. Backups are extremely easy to keep, so there's no reason not to have one. Here's how to set one up.

Whether you accidentally delete a file or lose a bunch of your data to a hard drive crash, regularly backing up your machine is always a good idea. Both Windows and Mac OS X have great built-in backup utilities, so it only takes a few steps to get started. Here's what you need to do.

On Windows

  1. Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
  2. When you first plug it in, Windows will actually ask you if you want to use it as a backup. Tell it that you do. If you don't get this prompt, you can just go to the Start Menu, type "backup" in the search box, and hit Backup and Restore.
  3. From there, click the "Set Up Backup" button. Pick the external drive you plugged in and hit Next. Windows' default settings are probably fine, so you can just hit Next and the next screen too.
  4. On the last screen, hit "Save Settings and Run Backup". Windows will make its first backup of your drive, during which you don't want to turn off your computer. After that, it'll make regular backups in the background as you work — you don't need to deal with it again.

If you ever need to restore a file you lost, you can just go to the Start Menu, type in "backup", and go back to "Backup and Restore". You can hit the "Restore My Files" or "Restore Users Files" buttons to get those files back.

On a Mac

  1. Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
  2. When you plug in your drive, your Mac will ask you if you want to use that drive as a backup disk. Hit "Use as Backup Disk". If you don't get this prompt, you can always go to System Preferences > Time Machine to set it as a backup disk, too.
  3. From Time Machine's preferences, hit "Select Backup Disk" and choose your external drive.
  4. That's it! OS X will perform its first backup (during which you'll want to keep your computer on), and from then on it'll back up in the background with no work required on your part.

If you ever need to restore a file, just click on the Time Machine icon in your menu bar and hit "Enter Time Machine". From there, you can search through your old backups for the files you lost and restore them to your hard drive.


Comments

    Does anyone know if there is a way of getting windows to backup specific folders? Maybe even two backups which update each time (like some sort of last two restore points for specific files)?

    I feel it's not really necessary to backup files i can just reinstall again from a disc ie. windows files and games/programs. I'd just rather backup the savegames and personal files which cannot be reinstalled (liked obviously audio files and documents).

    Help would be much appreciated. :)

      Best freeware backup program I've found is SyncBack.

      It will allow you to setup a filter, which can target certain file types only.

      I use this to save my game saves and replays and none of the other junk.

    *I’d just rather backup the savegames and personal files which cannot be reinstalled (liked obviously audio files and documents) to save space.

    Sorry i should also mention i wanted to just make it so that the files are just copied for easy access (for a noob like myself) rather than a restore point file that windows seems to work with.

      It can be done manually of course. You might even be able to automate it by creating a batch file and setting it to run sometime.
      I would suggest searching google for this kind of thing, as i cant think of anything else off the top of my head.

    where do i find your background its awesome, or maybe a few by the same artist?

    Just use Synctoy 2 free from Microsoft. You set up folder pairs and how you want it to sync, eg. one way copy only. You have to set up each folder pair but you can easily run all the folder pair tasks (or those selected) in one go. It just copies folders as they are. It doesn't create some weird backup file format that you have to "restore".

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