In this article we will explain how to backup PC to external hard drive as well as explaining why this is necessary, the different ways that it can be done, and crucially what you should actually be backing up in terms of information.
Why backing up your PC is important
Backing up your PC to an external hard drive is extremely important simply because it means you are keeping your valuable data safe – everyone has some form of valuable data on their PC – whether it is photographs, documents, emails, music or even saved game data – everything has their own idea of what data is important.
We all know that PCs and laptops are not indestructible; they are complex devices made from moving mechanical parts and they do break. The most common types of hard drives (The item in your computer that actually holds your data) are SATA drives – and they contain moving parts, they are also extremely sensitive to movement and heat and they all have a mean time before failure – or more specifically they have an average amount of disk revolutions before they are likely to break.
Of course, if you have all of your data on that hard drive when it breaks, they chance are you will have lost that data for good, if it isn’t backed up.
Different ways to back up your PC
There are quite a few different primary ways to back up your PC data and there are even more permutations of each method. the two ways that are most common – without going into too much detail – are backup to an external hard drive and backing up to the cloud – a remote data storage via the Internet.
This article focuses on how to backup pc to external hard drive because this is the method that a lot of people trust – you have the hard drive in your possession, you physically perform the backup yourself, you can even check the drive to confirm the backed up data is present on there.
Also, for security purposes, you know that the external hard drive is within your possession and therefor that your data is not at risk.
There are many different types of external hard drive that you could use to back up your data to, but we personally recommend the Samsung 1TB M3 external hard drive that we recently reviewed on BloggTech.
What information you should back up on your PC
Your PC actually contains an extremely large amount of information, some programs will prompt you to browse through this information and select what files you wish to back up but in reality there are only a few important locations that you need to consider when backing up your PC and they are as follows:
- Desktop – lots of people keep files on there desktop (Although technically its a bad practice) so this needs to be backed up. Most backup programs show this location as standard, but if you need to find it on your hard drive, use this reference article.
- Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos – In windows XP these folders are grouped together into a single my documents folder, but in windows 7 and beyond they are separate folders within your home folder, again most backup programs will include these locations by default.
- All users picture folder – more commonly used (And forgotten about) in windows XP, this is a shared documents folder that is sometimes used by default to store photographs.
- Email storage – This is an important one, often forgotten and often not included by default when using a backup program. The location of your email storage can vary depending on what program you are using, so you should do some research before configuring your backup.
How often should you back up your PC?
This is really something you should decide yourself depending on how important your information is and how often it changes as well as how large the data is.
The advise we would give though is that it should be a regular and routine occurrence – you may decide to do it once per week, once per month or once per year, but once you decide, you should put that date in your diary and stick to it – otherwise its easy to forget about it, and the day when you need that backup you might realize your have forgotten to take it.
What program should you use to backup your PC?
Lots of external hard drives actually come with backup programs that make the process simple for you, but if you don’t have a backup program with your device, we would recommend a program called Second Backup – whilst there is a premium version of the program available, the basic version is completely free and it is perfectly suitable for the job of backing up your PC to an external hard drive – it has an easy to use interface for setting up and running backups, you can schedule backups to run automatically or run them manually, and you can even specify how many copies of the backup you want the program to retain.