How to Backup Your Computer

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Do you know how to back up your computer in case of emergencies? Statistics show that 44 percent of data loss is caused by system crash, deleting by mistake, or corruption of software, according to TechieState.

If you received a virus or your computer hard drive crashed, would you be able to say you have your important information saved on an external backup drive or somewhere safe?

If not, you should keep reading. I'm going to break down exactly how to back up your computer, whether you have a Mac or PC.

I am also going to explain a little bit about what the best online backup services are and do and why you should consider getting one.

Key Considerations Before Backing Up Your Computer

Knowing how to backup your computer can save you the pain of never getting back old pictures and important documents you have saved on your PC or Mac.

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Although the computer backup process will always be a little different depending on which one you have, here's how to backup your computer in general.

1. Choose a Backup System

You can backup files and photos using a couple different backup systems such as:

  • Local backups: A local backup system uses an external computer hard drive such as an external backup drive, a hard disk, or a simple flash drive.
  • Online backups: Online backups use cloud storage such as iCloud and Google Drive via WiFi to store your data on a remote server or computer.
  • Network-attached storage (NAS): Network-Attached Storage is a computer data storage server that gets connected to a computer network. Its purpose is to provide an entire group of people access to stored company data. If you're a business owner with a business Internet provider you may want to look into NAS.

2. Make Sure your Backup Device or Service has Enough Storage

If you want to back up your computer files, you should have just as much storage on your external hard drive or cloud-based backup as you have on your computer, if not more. Keep this in mind when you're thinking about purchasing an online computer backup or local backup device.

3. Download, plugin, or set up your external drive, hard disk, or cloud storage option of choice

Depending which backup process you use to backup files, you'll have to either download it, install it, plug it in, or simply open it on your computer. If you have a Google account with Google Drive or an iCloud account, you'll need to sign in. If you have an online backup system, you'll need to specify the data and files you want to backup and restore in emergencies. Then, transfer your data.

4. Keep your Information Safe

Make sure to keep your computer backup files and information safe once you have them stored. If a hacker gained access, they would have every bit of your stored information at their fingertips. Additionally, if a storm happened or you lost your external device, you would lose all your files. Keep your external drives in a super safe place (like a safety deposit box) and make sure your WiFi connection is secure when transferring files via WiFi. You may also want to encrypt your data and files with a password.

5. Restore your Backup Files Easily if Anything Happens

If something does go wrong with your computer, you should be able to easily access and restore your backed up files. You can usually either backup your files from a certain date and time or backup files and folders individually when you need to.

"If you received a virus or your computer hard drive crashed, would you be able to say you have your important information saved on an external backup drive or somewhere safe?"

How To Backup Mac

Macs come with a built-in computer backup software called Time Machine for automatic backup of all files and photos once you turn it on. Here's how to access Time Machine to backup and restore your files.

Backup Mac with Local Backup

1. Plug in an external drive to the side of your Mac. The drive should be the same size as your internal hard drive, if not two to four times bigger.

mac backup system preferences

2. Navigate to System Preferences > Time Machine.

navigate to time machine app

3. Turn the Time Machine switch to on if it isn't already.

turn time machine on and follow the prompts

4. Click on Select Disk and select the device you're using for the backup.

5. Time Machine will then ask if you want to use the device as a backup destination. It will also ask you if you want to encrypt the backup with a password to protect your privacy.

6. If you want you can navigate through your options to exclude certain files and turn on notifications for whenever old backups are deleted.

7. Once you've completed these steps, Time Machine will backup your information every hour.

How To Restore Mac File History

Once you've backed up your files, you'll need to know how to restore them if your computer runs into a dangerous virus or crash. Here's how to restore your file history.

1. Go to the spotlight search at the top right corner of your Mac status bar.

mac spotlight search bar

2. Type in Time Machine.

time machine spotlight results

3. Once you do this, you'll see your backup files and you'll be able to scroll through and select them.

4. You can select files and click Restore or use the spacebar to preview the file first.

Other Mac Backup Options

You can also use an external backup program for Mac backup files. Here are a couple of options.

Seagate Backup Plus for Mac

The Seagate Backup Plus for Mac sells external drives with Windows and Mac compatibility. They have a huge selection of both portable and slim external devices for you to backup your files with.

Snap Backup

Snap Backup is a one-click backup storage software for your important files and downloads. It works on Mac OS X and Windows and will also copy your information and files to a flash drive or other external device. Check their website for more details on how the one-click backup works.

How to Backup Your PC

Figuring out how to backup a computer with Windows is different from backing up a Mac computer. Here's how to do it.

1. Click the Start button.

2. Go to your Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Backup and Restore.

3. Select Set up Backup. This is where you'll either add your external hard drive or online backup service and begin backing up your files to it.

Restore Your Backup Files

Once you've backed up your files, here's how to restore them on a PC. You can also create a restore point to restore your files to a certain time if you ever have any issues.

1. Click Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Backup and Restore.

2. Choose to either Restore Files or Restore All Users' Files.

3. You can click on Browse for Files or Browse for Folders to look through your backed up files. Click Restore Files to restore single files.

Other Free PC Backup Programs

MyPC Backup

The MyPC Backup is a free PC backup program that uses an application connected to a Google storage cloud to store your backed up files. Once you back up your files with the MyPC Backup, you can view them from virtually any device with WiFi and restore them whenever you have to. Just go to their site and create an account. You'll get 1 GB of free PC backup storage.

Macrium Reflect

The Macrium Reflect software is a backup program and disk-imaging software made for Microsoft Windows. It has a free and paid version. Macrium Reflect uses Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service to provide point-in-time backups whenever you need them.

Google Drive

Sign in with your Google account when you use Google Drive to backup your photos, documents, and downloads. You can download the Google Drive App on your Android or iOs device as well.

How To Backup Your iPhone or iPad

There are two iPhone backup software tools to easily backup iPhone and tablet files and information. You can use iTunes iPhone backup software or iCloud's cloud-based backup, according to Apple. Here's how to do it.

Backup Using iTunes

1. Make sure you have the most updated version of iTunes and your iCloud storage is turned off. You'll find both Updates and iCloud options in your settings.

2. Stay in your settings once this is done. Go to General > iTunes WiFi Sync. You should see your computer on the list. Select it.

itunes wifi sync settings

3. Your iPhone or iPad's files and information will then go into an automatic backup once your screen is locked, you're connected to WiFi, and your phone or tablet is plugged into its charger.

activate sync now to begin backup

4. You can also backup your phone or tablet on a computer by plugging it into your computer with your USB cable.

5. Once your USB cable is plugged in, go to iTunes, make sure your iCloud storage is off, and right-click on your device in iTunes on the left column and select Backup.

6. You can easily restore your iTunes backup by going to iTunes, right-clicking your device and clicking Summary > Restore.

Using iCloud Account

1. Connect to WiFi on your device.

2. Go to your settings and click on iCloud.

icloud backup settings

3. Click on iCloud Backup and make sure it's turned on.

click on icloud backup

4. Then click on Back Up Now. Make sure you don't disconnect from WiFi while your files transfer.

iPhone Backup Software Extractor

The iPhone Backup Extractor can actually recover your photos, messages, contacts and more from your previous iTunes or iCloud backups. You can download it for free if you ever run into an issue and need to recover your files. The iPhone Backup Extractor transforms your extracted backup files into VCard, CSV, or ICAL formats. This way, you can import them into Outlook, Excel, or Webmail easily.

How To Backup Your Android Phone

Backing up an Android Phone like the Samsung Galaxy is a little different than backing up an iPhone. Here's how to backup an Android phone or tablet.

Enable Backups with Google

1. Go to Settings > Backup.

2. Make sure you have Backup My Data and Automatic Restore turned on.

3. Go back to Settings > Accounts (tap Google) and select your Google account.

4. Select everything you want to backup with Google.

5. Doing this will keep an automatic backup of your Android files and information in the cloud connected to your Google Account. All you need to do is sign in with your Gmail username and password.

Mybackup Pro

Mybackup Pro is an Android device app meant to help Android users with a Samsung Galaxy or Android devices backup their files. Android users can download Mybackup Pro to sync their photos, contacts, and other information to the app to restore whenever they need.


Now that you know how to back up your computer, smartphone or tablet, don't waste any time. The faster you backup your files and data using computer backup techniques and software, the faster you'll be safe from hard drive crashes and viruses.

Backing up your data is just one way to keep your important documents and photos secure. You should look into antivirus software as the first line of defense to keep everything on your computer safe.

If you're not interested in iCloud or Microsoft's OneDrive, you might want to consider a different data recovery service. Check out our comparison to see our top picks.

If this article helped you figure out how to backup your computer or smart device, please share it with your friends and family to help them out too. You can also follow us on Pinterest and Facebook for more guides and technology tips.

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