How to Back Up Your Files Before a System Restore


Backing up your computer files is an essential part of computer maintenance. Whether you want your data stored for safe-keeping or you need an extra copy of it in another location, backing up is the way to go. It becomes especially important to back up your files when making dramatic system changes, such as restoring your system to a previous condition. It is during these processes that major errors can occur, and a backup will come in handy. To make things even simpler, there are several equally efficient ways to back up your files.

Things You'll Need

  • External hard drive (optional)
  • Flash drive (optional)
  • Blank CD-R or DVD-R (optional)
  • Use preinstalled backup tools. Many computers have backup software preinstalled upon purchase (for example, Time Machine for Macs or Backup and Restore for Windows). These tools are designed to back up files to various mediums so they can be kept on the computer's hard drive or an external physical drive to prevent total loss of data. Upon opening the utility, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the backup.

  • Back up important files to a flash drive or memory stick. Insert the stick into a USB port on the computer. Drag-and-drop selected files onto the drive icon that appears on your desktop (for Macs) or in My Computer (for Windows). Flash drives and memory sticks are highly portable and can be kept in small spaces such as safes. Though they typically do not have a capacity greater than a few gigabytes (GB), they are large enough to hold your most important files.

  • Fill an external hard drive. These external drives typically have very large memory capacities and can therefore hold most or all of the files contained on a hard drive. Connect the external hard drive through a USB port. You can either drag-and-drop files onto the drive or use it as a backup medium through a preinstalled backup utility.

  • Burn important files to a blank CD-R or DVD-R. Backing up an entire hard drive may take many discs, so this option is ideal if you would like to back up important media or document files for easy access later. Insert the disc into the CD-ROM drive and follow on-screen prompts (for both Windows and Mac) to back up and burn files.

  • Upload files to cloud storage. Internet cloud storage services (such as Mozy and Dropbox) are great ways to back up files to the Internet for access from any Internet-capable device. Important files with sensitive information should only be backed up to secure cloud services such as Mozy. Clouds like Dropbox are great for backing up pictures, video, and other less-sensitive files.

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