How To Back-Up Your Computer

There are several different ways to do this. You can backup your computer manually, you can perform a complete backup using options through your operating system, or use third-party software solutions. Take a moment to setup a plan: What you are going to backup? How often do you plan to do this backup? Where are you going to store your backup files?

Easy Backup

This is where you just backup your documents, pictures, and music. This is assuming you store them in your user folder. You may also want to backup your downloads folder, as this is where a lot of your “purchased” music my reside.

  1. Windows Vista users can go to their C: drive and click the users folder and then right click their user folder, in my case it is “Ray”.  XP users need to go to documents and settings, then select the user folder.
  2. Then simply right-click and send to your external hard drive, or whatever storage device with enough room to house all your files.
  3. Check the drive to ensure your files are there and accessible.

Windows Backup Utility

Windows comes with a backup utility to backup the files on the computer, as well as the entire operating system and files. There are a couple ways to access this, and depending on if you have Vista or XP it may differ.

  1. Go to “my computer” and right click your C:/ drive.  Select properties – tools – backup now.  There are two options. The first is to configure automatic backups and the second is to do a complete backup of your computer.  I’d suggest doing a complete backup first, then configure automatic backups. Note: Automatic backups will require you to have your external device plugged in at the schedule time of backup.
  2. Choose “complete PC backup” and then select “create a backup now”. Choose your external device and begin the backup.
  3. Next you’ll want to turn on automatic backups. You’ll have the option to choose the types of files you want backed up (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.). Best practice is storing your files in the correct folder (my documents, my pictures, my music, etc.), as it may not necessarily backup all your files if you have them randomly on your desktop or other random folders. If you did an easy backup you should be capturing the “desktop” and everything you have on it. Regardless, you should have done the full pc backup and it will have your desktop stored on that.  Simply select your backup schedule. Depending on how often you are creating new files is what helps determine the backup frequency. I would say weekly to play it safe. Daily is overkill for most non-business settings.  Run your first backup and then let the automatic backups run its course. Be sure to do a manual backup about every two months to ensure the backups are working.

Third-Party Backup

There are many software solutions out there that enable you to easily backup and restore your computer. The one I am currently using is a free one by Marcrium called Reflect. I simply set it to do an auto backup to my server every week. I can use Macrium to go in and look at my backup in case there was one file I had accidentally deleted or a photo I had edited and inadvertently saved over. This helps from having to to do a full restore for something simple.

If you do frequent backups of various levels (partial to full), you should have a more enjoyable computing experience. As when disaster strikes, you’ll be prepared. Pictures are priceless, and large music collections may set you back hundreds of dollars to replace.  With a bulletproof backup plan you’ll be prepared for the worst.