Getting Comfortable With The Basics

Backing Up Your Data – Why You Need To Do It

 Windows 11 Built-In Tools  –  Recommended  –  Google Free Backup  –  Subscription Services 

Data loss can happen in many ways. One of the most common causes is a physical failure of the media the data is stored on, in addition, Malware can infect your system and corrupt or encrypt files. You probably have everything saved on your PC’s hard drive. That hard drive will not live forever. To quote one of the tech geeks I follow, “there are only two types of hard drives – the ones that have failed and the ones that will fail.” Normally hard drives will live for years without incident. But eventually, they will die. It might happen gradually, by more and more bad clusters accumulating until most of the drive is unusable. Or it might happen suddenly; the hard drive dies without warning.

I don’t recommend so-called backup software.  It is often buggy, difficult, or confusing to use and most programs make one big glob (large proprietary file) that is hard to verify and requires having the backup program installed to read the files or restore them.

It is not necessary or possible to back up programs (applications) or Windows. If your hard drive fails, you will install Windows from the Win 11 installation media and any applications like Word, Excel, and Quicken…  installing from the disks that came with your computer or, more commonly, downloading an installation file from the creator’s website and installing.  If you need to install or reinstall Windows 11, you can use the tools on this page to create your own installation media using a USB flash drive.

Back up and restore your files in Windows

I Recommend this method for all Windows versions:

Use File Explorer to copy files (this is the method I use and prefer). Right-click on the Start Flag and select “File Explore.” With File Explorer, you can select files and copy them to an external hard drive or thumb drive.  On the external drive, I create a folder named “backup-ddmmyy” (backup-today date). Keep the past backups and make a new “backup-today date” folder the next time you do a backup.  Most external hard drives will hold 5 or 10 backup archives.

Unless you have, on purpose, stored files in different locations, the following directories should have everything you have created.

In the left side list under “This PC,” copy the following to your backup destination.

  • Documents
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos
    Be sure to “Right Click” and drag Folder… to your backup drive folder and choose “Copy.” 
    Note: Left Drag will not copy the files. It just created a shortcut but did not copy the files.

In my opinion, this is the simplest and safest way to make a backup.  After you have copied files to your external hard drive or thumb drive, it is easy to verify if you have a good backup. Just open some folders and see if the pictures or documents are present. To restore your files or pictures, reverse the process, and copy from the external drive to your internal drive.

Gmail suite of free products keeps your data backed up online.

  • If you use Gmail, your Contacts and e-mail are stored safely in the cloud.  I use many Google services! Glenn
  • Google Drive is a free Word processor and spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Word and Excel. You can upload existing Word or Excel documents to Google Docs for free.  This is a great way to protect your Microsoft Office documents from getting lost.
  • Getting started with Gmail and Google services.

Store and sync your photos by uploading to Google Photos.

Google Drive for desktop Use Google Drive to automatically back up photos from your computer to Google Photos

  • How to use Google Drive – You can store your files securely and open or edit them from any device using Google Drive.
  • Back up photos & videos – You can automatically save your photos and videos to your Google Account when you turn on backup.        

Back up photos & videos from a desktop with Google Drive Backup: What Are Your Options? by Spanning Cloud Apps

Subscription Backup Services

  • Get Carbonite, and it’s easy to use. It isn’t enough to back up to a hard drive. You have to have an off-site backup as well. – Rules of backup are simple – there’s got to be two copies of everything with a third copy offsite. Francis Ford Copolla had all his scripts, his laptop, and his backups stolen! You need an off-site option as well. I use this service! Glenn

Use the built-in disk-burning software in Win 10. Insert a blank CD or DVD and follow the instructions. How to Copy Files to a CD or DVD in Windows 11

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