Backing your files on Windows 10 isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, you get your pick of different backup options.
Backups using OneDrive are best for most users since it performs backups automatically, and your data is stored in the cloud. However, it comes with only 5 GB free. So unless you subscribe to a plan, you can’t back up your entire system.
For large-scale backups, the long-running Windows Backup and Restore feature is an excellent choice. You can also use the Windows File History feature to store specific files, folders, and settings on an external hard drive.
And lastly, you can opt for third-party backups like iDrive, Backupper, and Acronis Cyber Home Protect. Such software provides flexible and scalable options and is best for those with large amounts of data like businesses.
Read our full article as we dig deep into each of these backup options, showing you how to set them up properly and secure your data today.
If you don’t count yourself as a tech geek or nerd, you might think that setting up a Windows 10 backup is difficult or complicated. However, Windows 10 backups are generally simple to set up. What’s more, you have a variety of options to choose from.
In this article, we’ll show you a step-by-step guide to set up many of these options, as well as show you how to make an image of Windows 10. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Creating a Backup on Windows 10: Understanding the Different Methods
Before diving into the backup process, let’s understand the different ways in which you can create a Windows 10 backup.
- OneDrive: OneDrive is excellent if you want to back up your Windows 10 desktop, pictures, and documents.
- File History: File History is a new addition to Windows 10. It allows users to create regular backups of their files on an external storage device.
- Backup and Restore: This is the legacy Windows backup tool. By using “Backup and Restore,” you can create a “system image backup,” which includes your settings, applications, and other programs you have installed (in addition to all files and folders).
- Third-Party Backup: Several companies have launched software that further simplifies the process of creating a backup on Windows 10. If you don’t like the built-in backup features on Windows 10 or just want additional backups, this is a great option.
We walk you through each of these different methods in the following sections.
Backing up Windows 10 Files Using OneDrive
OneDrive enables you to back up your desktop and your Documents and Pictures folders. It’s best for backing up personal files that don’t require large storage space. The good news is that as long you’re signed in, OneDrive backs up the selected folders automatically.
Here are key steps to get you started with OneDrive on your Windows 10 PC.
- Download and install OneDrive. Make sure to get the installation file from the official Microsoft website.
- Open OneDrive by clicking on the OneDrive cloud icon in your Windows 10 notification area, pictured below.
- Once you’ve selected the white cloud icon, click on the gear icon. You’ll find options to upgrade your package, unlock your Personal Vault (a place to keep your most sensitive information), pause OneDrive syncing, or quit OneDrive entirely.
- If you want to choose the kinds of files OneDrive backs up, click on “Settings.” An information window should appear.
- Select the “Backup” tab, and you’ll see an option to manage your account.
- Click the “Manage backup button,” pictured below.
To access your OneDrive folder and see what’s being saved, you can perform any of the following steps:
- Click on the search icon in your taskbar (or hit Win + S on your keyboard). Search for “OneDrive” and select the app once it appears. This should open your OneDrive folder.
- Click on the cloud icon in your notifications area. Select the “Open folder” tab on the bottom. Doing so will open your OneDrive folder.
Creating a Windows 10 Backup using File History
If you want to back up more files than just your desktop, documents, and pictures, Windows File History is the way to go. It allows you to save selected files, folders, and settings to an external device. This way, if the original files are lost or infected, you can recover them using the backups on your external device. This of course means you need to have an external hard drive where you can store the backup.
Let’s discuss the steps involved in setting up File History backup on Windows 10:
- Find a suitable external storage device that can be used to create backups. You want to select one that has sufficient storage to accommodate the backup. It’s advisable to use a storage device that you don’t use for any other purposes.
- Connect your external storage device to your laptop or PC.
- Go to Settings. In Windows 10, simply hit the Start Button, then click the gear icon to go to the Settings menu.
- Next, click “Update & Security” which should be one of the last options listed.
- Then, click the option labeled “Backup,” which should be on the left pane. This will bring up the main screen for your backup settings.
- Choose “Backup using File History” listed at the top of the screen.
- Click on the plus sign next to “Add a drive.” Windows will detect any eligible drives you have connected to your computer. Choose the external drive you want to use and click on it.
- Windows will now automatically create a backup of your computer every hour. Your screen will now show a slider turned on to automatically backup files.
Configuring the File History backup
Your File History backup is now all set up! However, it still needs to be configured. This can be done by clicking on “More Options” on the Backup settings screen, pictured below.
Here, you can change how frequently Windows will perform a backup. Options range from every 10 minutes to once a day. You can also choose how long to keep backups. If you have plenty of space, you may choose to keep backups longer.
You can also change which folders are included in the backup. Adding or deleting folders is as simple as clicking on the “Add folder” button and choosing a folder. If you don’t want to include a folder (to save on storage space, for example), simply click the folder and choose “Remove.”
Creating a Windows 10 System Image Backup
Backup and Restore is the legacy Windows backup tool. It’s been around since Windows 7 and remains available in Windows 10 (and Windows 11, too).
Unlike a File History backup, Backup and Restore lets you backup your entire system image. This means that it takes a snapshot of everything on your system and creates a .iso file. This file can be used to recover the system in case it ever crashes.
Below, we explain the steps involved:
- Go to Settings by clicking on the Windows 10 Start Button and then clicking on the gear icon, as pictured below.
- Click the button that says “Update & Security.”
- Choose”Backup” from the sidebar on the left pane.
- Click on “Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).” This should open up a Control Panel window.
- Choose the “Create a system image” link, usually located on the left pane.
- Choose where you’d like your system image backup to be stored. This could be on an external hard drive (recommended), an external disc, or a location on your computer’s hard drive.
- Click “Next” once you’ve made your selection. In order to proceed with the device of your choice, make sure that it is connected to your computer.
- Select the drives you’d like to be backed up. Remember that the entirety of the selected drives will be backed up, so significant storage space may be required.
- Click “Start backup.”
- The backup process is now underway! When it’s complete, you will be able to see the .iso file in the location you had selected in Step 11.
Of course, if you save your backup file on your computer, then you run the risk of losing that backup if anything happens to your laptop or PC. As such, we recommend creating a full system image backup on external devices instead.
Third-Party Options for Backup
Third-party solutions are best if you want more flexible backup options. Key features to look for in choosing backup software include:
- Real-time backups, which store changes anytime they occur on your computer
- The ability to backup to an online cloud storage or to automatically transfer your backup via file transfer protocol (FTP) to off-site storage
- The impact of the backup solution on your computer’s performance
- The tool’s user data handling and privacy policies, as a lot of personal data will be processed and stored by the backup tool
After extensive research and testing, we’ve narrowed down our recommendations to three tools, which we discuss below.
1. Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office: Easy-to-use backup option
Formerly known as True Image 2021, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is an all-in-one computer backup and security solution. The software allows you to backup your entire system, including your operating system, applications, and data. You can also backup specific disks and partitions, as well as files and folders.
If you’re keen on an extra layer of security, Acronis allows you to notarize your files using blockchain. However, this feature is only available for premium users.
Overall, Acronis is easy to install, and the user interface is simple, clean, and organized. You can schedule and automate your backups based on your preferences. With one subscription, you can back up up to five computers.
For a list of features, plans, and pricing, see the table below.
|Feature||Acronis Essentials||Acronis Advanced||Acronis Premium|
|Pricing||$49.99 per year||$89.99 per year||$124.99 per year|
|Cloud storage||—||500 GB||1 TB (Upgradeable)|
|Flexible backups (full image to file-level backups)||✔||✔||✔|
|Active disk cloning||✔||✔||✔|
|Quick recovery / Universal restore||✔||✔||✔|
|Cloud backup features||✖||✔||✔|
|Automatic replication of data in the cloud||✖||✔||✔|
|Blockchain certification of files||✖||✖||✔|
|Electronic signature on files||✖||✖||✔|
The main downside of this feature-rich Windows 10 backup is that it’s quite pricey compared to other options like iDrive and Backblaze. To learn more about Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, click the orange button below.
2. AOMEI Backupper: Best free Windows 10 backup
Backupper is a great choice if you’re on the hunt for a free personal Windows 10 backup. Its free version covers the basics: full system imaging, disk cloning, file and folder backup, file syncing, and different scheduling options.
Besides its trove of features, Backupper’s user interface is well laid-out, clean, and attractive. If you’re new to backup software, you’ll love that Backupper’s learning curve is minimal.
Even though you get key features with the free version, it comes with a number of bottlenecks. First of all, you’ll have to deal with ads and popups while running the service. Most of those ads are upgrade offers from Backupper. You can upgrade to the Professional version for a one-time fee of $49.95, which doesn’t come with ads and offers 24/7 customer support.
Learn more about Backupper by clicking the button below.
3. iDrive: Best Windows 10 backup for businesses
If you’re a business looking to back up large volumes of files, iDrive is an excellent option. Its Team plan offers 1TB storage per user for between 5 to 100 users. Big firms will love the Business plan which offers anywhere from 250 GB to 50 TB per person for an unlimited number of users.
For users who want to backup multiple devices, iDrive is also a popular choice, since it allows you to back up an unlimited number of phones, laptops, and servers to a single account. You can manage all these devices, including your Windows 10 computer, on the iDrive web portal.
When it comes to features, iDrive is well-stocked. You can clone your entire system or back up your drives or folders into one cloud account with just a few clicks. The backup service also comes with real-time online file syncing to ensure changes to your files are continuously backed up automatically.
What’s more, if you suffer a disaster or loss, iDrive can send you your data in a physical storage device in less than a week. This feature is great since it ensures that your business operations don’t stall for long because of a disaster.
iDrive’s pricing depends on the plan you pick and the storage you choose. Below are the prices for the iDrive Mini and iDrive Personal plans. Note that these are promotional prices, applicable only for the first subscription year.
- iDrive Mini: $3.71 per year (100 GB), $7.46 per year (500 GB), $14.62 per year (1 TB), $29.62 per year (2 TB)
- iDrive Personal: $59.62 per year (5 TB), $74.62 per year (10 TB)
To view iDrive’s full pricing list and learn more about its features, click on the button below.
Why You Need to Back Up Windows 10
Windows remains the most used computer operating system today. Sadly, however, data breaches, data losses, and hardware failure are increasingly common these days. Your hard drive could crash, or a hacker could infect your computer with ransomware, denying access to your files.
Here are a few statistics to help contextualize the problem: data loss is up 400% since 2012, and up to 140 hard drives fail every week in the U.S. alone.
While data losses can’t always be prevented, their impact can be mitigated by regularly backing up your files and system image. If the files are lost or infected, you can simply use a backup to restore files or restore your system.
In order to keep your system backed up, make sure to have at least one of the following:
- System image backup: A system image is an exact copy of a drive, usually including the drives needed for Windows to run. Typically, this is kept on a system image recovery disk, such as a flash drive, hard drive, or disc. This file is essential in case you’re performing a system restore.
- File backups: These are backups of your personal files, such as your documents and pictures, so you can
Protect Your Files by Creating a Secure Windows 10 Backup
When it comes to backing up your Windows 10 system of files, you’re spoiled for choice. OneDrive is great if you’re only looking to backup selected personal files, including videos, documents, and pictures. Windows Backup and Restore is best if you want to backup your entire system, while Windows File History works best with backing up specific files and folders.
You can also use third-party software like iDrive, AOMEI Backupper, and Acronis if you want more features and larger backup storage.
To learn more about backing up different devices, check out our articles below:
- How to Backup Your Android Data
- How to Back Up Your iPhone
- How to Back Up Your iPad
- How to Back up Your Mac
For more storage space for your Windows 10, consider picking from our selection of the best cloud storage providers.
We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about backing up Windows 10 in the following section. Check it out if you have any doubts about the backup process
Follow the steps listed below to backup files on Windows 10:
- Open Settings from the Start Menu.
- Click on “Update & Security.”
- Select “Backup from the Menu” on the left.
- Click on “Add a Drive” under File History.
- Select the preferred drive to create a backup.
- Windows will now back up your files every hour.
Check out this article to learn how to backup your entire Windows 10 system image.
Yes, you can backup Windows 10 to a flash drive or any other external storage as long as it has enough space to store the files. Learn about the different ways in which you can backup Windows 10 here.
Each method of backing up Windows 10 has its specific purpose. Which one is best will depend on your needs.
If you just want to keep a copy of important files and data, using Windows File History is the way to go. If you want to back up your entire system image, Windows Backup and Restore is what you want to use.
Other options include using OneDrive and third-party software. We detail all these methods in our article.
You can create a backup of your entire system image using Windows Backup and Restore. We’ve explained the process of creating a system image backup below:
- Click on the Windows logo to open the Start menu.
- Search for Settings and click on the gear icon.
- Select the “Update and Security” section in the Settings menu.
- Click on “Backup.”
- Select “Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)”. This will open up a control panel window
- Click on “Create a System Image” on the left side of the screen. Follow the on-screen instructions to successfully create a system image backup.