Yes, yes and yes. Backing up your data is one of the most important things to do to save our most precious photos, family videos, documents, and so on from our computer, I-pad, phone, or whatever else that you have data on. But you know what, the percentage of people that do this, is very small. And why is this, well because it just takes time out of our oh so busy days, 🙂 and yet we would die if we lost that data. 🙁 So do I backup my computer files? The answer to that is Yes!
Most people think that it is time-consuming and having to have this or that to accomplish this, well not anymore, with the new technology that is available once you get it set up, it’s almost worrying free. So here on this post, I will cover what, where, and how to back up those precious files.
Before we get started, do you have an Image of your hard drive, one that contains a copy of everything that is on your hard drive, like your operating system, apps, and programs? If not you should defiantly make one, because if your system ever becomes corrupt and inoperable, having an image will make life a lot easier for you when it comes time to start from scratch in restoring your Pc, or Laptop to its original state.
Now if you don’t know how to go about doing this, well then you can check out my article on How to make an Image of a Hard drive, where I explain everything you need to know about Imaging a hard drive.
What Should I Keep Backed up?
Now that you have an Image of your hard drive that contains your Operating system files and programs (which will contain your data files as well) let’s go over the files that you will most likely want to back up.
- Photos and Videos: Where would you be if you lost those precious memories of your kids and other family members, and what about our furry kids, don’t want to lose those. So in my book, this is one of the top items to have backed up at all times.
- Documents: This is one that is quite obvious to have backed up, nothing worse than losing last year’s taxes, or that document that you spent hours working on.
- Emails: If you are saving emails to your computer, then this would be another file to have backed up. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, you will find these are stored in a .pst file.
- Music: All of those MP3 downloads that you paid good money for, or the ones from iTunes, I would not want to fork out the money to download them again, let alone trying to remember all the tunes that you have acquired.
- Users\AppData: These are the files that contain the settings for all of your apps, programs, and software you have installed. Without these, you would not be able to run your apps and programs.
- Downloads: Yes you have a folder that contains all of the downloads of your software and other files. So anytime your system becomes corrupt you can use this folder to download those files again without having to remember everything that you had on your system.
Those are the most important files to have backed up on a regular schedule, and of course if you have anything else that is important to you just add them to the list.
Places to Store your Backups on:
Let’s go over some of the places to backup your files to starting with
- USB Flash Drives: These are great to use with Windows File Explore for backing up all of your library files on a regular schedule that you set up.
- CD’s & DVD’s: Where all familiar with these, you can use these for making archives of certain files, and they cost a lot less than flash drives. But you cannot set up a schedule to backup at a time when you’re away from your computer because you will have to be there to keep changing the discs during the process.
- External Hard Drive: Now with these you can run applications to keep your files up to date automatically and have enough room to keep your image files on it also, making it easy to restore your system should it ever become inoperable.
- Cloud Storage: Becoming more and more popular these days, there easy to use and allow you to sync your data to your other devices. It’s also stored in a different location that is away from your computer in case of fire, floods or theft, and if your files aren’t too large you can use their free storage. You can learn more by reading my article on Backing up files to the Cloud by clicking here.
Here are some common methods of backing up your files, and how to set them up.
Windows Backup and Restore:
In Windows 7, 8, and 10, you have a utility called Backup and Restore, here you can backup your files and also make a system image to a Flash drive, DVD disks, External hard drive, or a different partition of your main hard drive, (you can check out how to partition a hard drive here) and even to your network.
To access this program, go to your control panel and click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7) located at the top. On your first time through you will select the location as where to save your backups and this will become the default location.
Once you have chosen where to backup to, click next, and here you will have the option to allow windows to choose the files for you (which covers every type of data that you have).
Or you can opt to choose what files you want, click next, on this page you can change the schedule from the default setting of Every Sunday at 7:00 PM to Daily or monthly, what day of the week, and what time you would like, or accept the default. Once that’s done click Save Settings and run Backup.
Now if this is the first time and you are making an image (which I recommend you do) do not use your computer, take a break, catch a movie or maybe a nap while this is running, this can take up to an hour or more depending on how much data you have, after that it will run in the background on the schedule you have chosen.
Windows File History: I highly recommend using this:
For Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 you have a utility called File History. To access this utility open Control Panel, locate File History (everything is listed alphabetically) select, and on the next screen click on Select Drive, the following screen will ask you to click on any of the drives Windows has found that are connected to your system (you cannot use a different partition, only an external drive), or you can opt for a network location to use.
After that Windows will return to the screen where you will see a button labeled Run, if you’re ready, go ahead and click, but if you want to change (which you can at any time) the default setting of how often you want to save copies and how long to keep saved versions, then click on Advanced Settings. Go ahead and click the run for your first time and you are all set, from there it will be saving your data on a regular schedule. Sweet. 🙂
Oops I forgot to tell you that its default setting for what files it saves is the same as the Windows Backup and Restore, and if there is something you don’t care to backup you can change that by selecting Exclude Folders from the left side of the Run page, here you will have to enter the files names into the box provided. (Much easier to stay with the default) If you want more information on restoring your files, click here. Windows File History,
Using Cloud Services and why I think this is the way to go:
Cloud services have come a long way in protecting and saving your important information, and there is a lot to choose from. Some of them will give you a small amount of storage (usually around 2GB) for free, or you can purchase unlimited storage from them for a monthly fee ranging from a small fee of Three dollars on up to Fifty dollars and more, and provide an array of features to use to make backing up your important files (whatever they may be) all automated.
So once you have it set up your good to go and you can have peace of mind knowing your files are backed up and protected by a secure system. Also, you can have any of your files synced to all of your devices along with being able to share your files with whomever, you choose.
Now if you are going to store sensitive data make sure that the cloud service is encrypting your data, better yet don’t use a cloud service unless they do. If you don’t feel secure about storing your most private data with the cloud make sure that you have it backed up using the other methods I have gone over.
Right now I am using Dropbox, it’s simple to setup, my data is encrypted and secure, and I have certain files synced with my other devices. I also use Windows backup and restore utility along with Windows File History to keep all of my data backed up. You can never have enough backups made, so don’t rely on just one method, use them all.
Using Backup Software: Free or Paid
Using software to backup your files is a great way to go about backing everything up to an external drive, or you could use a separate partition (click here to find out what a partition is and how to set it up). With these programs, you can not only backup your files, but you can make an image of your drive or partition that holds all of your system files, apps, and software along with your data files.
And by upgrading to the paid versions (they range around $50.00 dollars) you have the ability to set up an automatic schedule to your choosing and even have them synced on a daily bases.
So if your system ever becomes corrupt, damaged, or unusable you can reboot your system using the emergency bootable drive (flash drive, CD or DVD disk that you make using the software) to restore your hard drive to an earlier time.
Most free versions don’t come with automatic backups but work great for making an Image of your drive and backing up your libraries (photos, music, videos, and documents) to an external drive on regular basis, you will just have to remember to do it.
So Should I Backup my Computer Files?
Yes, and now you have no excuse as to not having your files backed up, all you need to do is decide what you need to be backed up and what method to use. I would highly recommend using all of them from the Windows utilities to using a cloud service and downloading a software that will make your backups on daily bases.
There’s just no reason to lose any of your precious files except for being just too darn lazy, and if that’s your excuse then I would say you only need to blame yourself for anything you have lost. Which I will admit that when I started using computers way back in the late 70’s, I lost a lot of valuable files due to telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow (sure you will) 🙁
On that note, I hope you have found this post to be beneficial in getting you set up to backing your files on daily bases, and if you know someone else that needs a kick in the butt to start them down the right path please share this with them.
Do You Have any Question or Comments?
Now if you have any question at all please leave them below in the comment box and I will return you with an answer by the next day. If you know of other ways to backup your files, why not share them with the rest of us, I’m always open to suggestions and I love to hear from my readers!
Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day computing at Home or Office.