December 14, 2018

Find Out Which Computer Files To Back Up And How To Do It Guide

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First and foremost, this article is about backup and restore your computer.

In other words, it is about backing up your Windows-based computer and how to use the backup to restore it to working order again.

Note: Do not confuse this computer backup with WordPress backup.

This useful guide is about which files from your computer you need to back up and how to do it.

If you do not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose your valuable files forever.

Your computer’s hard drive could fail at any time, a ransomware could hold your files hostage, or even a software bug could delete your important files.

So, remember to back up your really important files in your computer regularly.

Which Computer Files To Back Up And How To Do It

 Let's go into the details now:

If you’re a typical home user, you really don’t need to create a system image backup.

A System image backup is a complete backups of everything on your PC’s hard drive or a single partition.

In other words, its is a snapshot of your entire drive, system files and all.

System image is very large, and it contains many files which you really don’t need to safe them.

It takes up a big chunk of  your storage space and a long time to back up.

Note: The fact is you DON'T need backup copies of all Windows directory or Program Files.

If your  hard drive crashes, you just reinstall Windows.

So are all the other software programs in Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders like Microsoft, Office, Photoshop or VLC Media Player, etc.

If your hard drive crashes, you can just reinstall these programs on a new Windows system again.

You just back up only your important files and not the whole system.

In short, forget about system image backup.

Which Computer Files To Back Up And How To Do It


Let's find out which files from your computer are considered important and you should back up.

Your Personal Data

From my own experience, the first file which I back up is my personal files.

It is because your own personal data is irreplaceable.

It is found in: C:\Windows\Users\(your username).

This is your user account’s data folders.

By default, this directory contains Downloads, My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, My Videos, Dropbox, Desktop folder, etc.

By the way, you can choose to exclude certain folders from the backup.

For examples, your downloaded videos or music tracks.

You can re-download them in the future.

There’s also an AppData folder here.

This is where programs store the settings and data specific to your user account.

You may be able to use this data to restore an individual program’s settings if you ever need to recover from a backup.

Your browser’s bookmarks and other settings are also in the AppData folder.

Note: Some of you may not use the default folders all the time, and you may store some files in a folder elsewhere on your PC’s hard drive.

So make sure you remember to locate these folders containing your important files and add them to the backup.

Backup Email

For those of you who are using a desktop email client, you may also want to back up your emails.

If you are using the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) for your email, then you DO NOT have to back up your emails.

The master copies of your emails are still stored on the remote server.

But for those of you who are still using the POP3 protocol to download emails.

Then you must back up your emails as they may only be stored on your home computer.

How To Back Up Your Computer Files


There are two ways to back up your vital data from your PC to an external drive, or onto a remote
server over the Internet.

1: Back Up To External Drive

This method you just plug in your external USB hard drive into your computer USB port.

For Windows 7, use Backup and Restore.


Related: How To Back Up And Restore Files In Windows 7


For Windows 8 and 10, use File History.

For Macs, use Time Machine.

Whenever you are using your PC, plug your external drive in and it’ll back up automatically.

2: Back Up With Online Storage & Cloud Services

You can back up your files via the internet to one of these online storage or cloud services.

You can find more details from these companies:

Backblaze

Mozy

Carbonite

SugarSync

Microsoft OneDrive

Dropbox

Google Drive

Back Up Regularly

Once you’ve started backing up your files, you should continue creating regular backups.

This process will be fast, if you back up regularly, as your backup tool will just back up the few personal files that have changed.

Automate Your Backups

This is to ensure those backups get done regularly.

If you are using the paid online backup service, it can be configured to automatically back up your PC every day.

My only advice here is just this:

Back up your important files now!