Backup is the process of saving your computer files to a medium other than your internal hard drive. If the drive fails, you can restore the files.
You can backup files in one of two ways. The first is recording files to another drive or removable storage media, such as a flash drive, CD, DVD, or external hard drive. The second method is uploading files to a server.
Also See: Backup Your Data
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I set up automatic backups?
Yes. Many external hard drives make it easy to create automatic backups, either for your entire computer or just certain files and folders. Check with your hard drive’s manufacturer to see if they have any backup software you can use. Some operating systems, including Windows, have backup features you can set up as well. These may include full system backups or backups of your system and setting files only, which can be used to recover your system if it starts acting strangely or won’t load. For your files, the easiest way to automatically back them up is to take advantage of online storage and file hosting services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. These services allow you to select files and folder on your computer that are automatically uploaded to an online storage server. Any changes you make to those files on your computer are then applied to the online file as well. You can even use files on several different computers, and the program will keep each version up-to-date.
How do I restore my backed up files?
Once you have stored your files on another drive or a storage server, you can often simply connect to that source and drag the files back to your computer’s hard drive. If you used special software provided by your external hard drive or CD/DVD Recorder, you may have to use that same software to browse the backup set and select which files you wish to restore. If you’re using an online storage service that syncs files between your computer and its server, you files should be kept up-to-date automatically. If you ever need to replace a hard drive or switch computers, simply reinstall the service’s software and select which folders you want to sync with your computer.
How do I restore my system from a system backup?
If your operating system will no longer load, you may be able to access system backups either by pressing a special key combination during your computer’s startup or by booting your computer from a recovery disk. You should consult your operating system’s online documentation or help system for specific directions on how to do this. In some cases, your computer may actually prompt you after a failed startup try again using a previously saved restore point. These are typically not full restores, but instead revert your system back to a working configuration. Some computer manufacturers also offer a full system restore, which uses a backup of how your computer looked when you purchased it to restore everything to the original factory state. Just be careful with this last option, as it will also erase all of your personal files!