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You can lose the data stored on your computer at any point. In case you don’t have this data backed up somewhere, the cost associated with such a data loss can sometimes be irrecoverable. A backup plan helps avoid any such scenario.

A number of methods exist to help you backup your data. Cloud storage, external hard drives, USB flash drives and other relevant ones are some examples. But, most of these options can be extremely time consuming and require the user’s attention.

This is why most operating systems today provide an automated process for backing up data. With the Windows operating system, a built-in backup feature exists to help users. While the process might differ based on what version of Windows you’re using, the overall process is the same.

Irrespective of this built-in process, users should also be careful to follow an efficient backup strategy. A rule of thumb should be to keep 3 copies of a valuable file. Out of these 3 copies that exist, 2 should be stored on different storage mediums. Out of these 2, at least one should be stored on a cloud storage platform. This is known as the 3-2-1 rule in backup and ensures the safety of your data.

Partial Data Backup Process

With the Windows Backup software, the process explained below will require an external hard drive to create backups. The drive will contain all of the data that will be backed up from your PC to this storage medium.

Users can choose to either partially back up the data on their computer system or copy all of it. In case you wish to backup all of the data in the drive, you’ll be making a system image. The process of backing up as a system image is explained separately here.

To start, let’s see the process of partially backing up your personal files using Windows Backup. You can choose this to copy any important file on your external drive.

Step 1: Open the Backup Utility

To start, open the Windows backup tool on your computer system. The name is different depending upon the version of Windows you’re using. Simply go to the search bar and type ‘backup’ and select the relevant option. For example, in Windows 7, this is known as the ‘Backup and Restore’ option.

Step 2: Choosing the Backup Destination

After you’re done opening the backup utility of your Windows, you will need to decide on a backup destination. Most commonly, the external hard drive is used for this purpose. You will need to attach the external hard drive to your PC now. Once you have done this, it should show up as a backup destination on the Windows backup feature.

Step 3: Selecting the Files to Backup

This type of backup involves manually choosing the files and folders to be backed up. As such, users will decide upon the files that they need to backup.

Make sure the storage capacity of the hard disk is at least 35% greater than the backup space required. This ensures that the hard drive can be used for additional backups if required in the future.

Step 4: Customize your Settings

Windows backup allows customized setting options. Here, you can choose how often you wish to backup your data. The more frequent the backups, the higher the chance that your data will not be lost. Other advanced settings are also available. You can configure these before starting the backup process.

System Image Backup Process

A complete backup of your computer system ensures total safety of your data. This type of backup is commonly referred to as a system image backup. This is because the backup being made on the external hard drive will be an exact image of your computer system data.

Here are the steps to follow to create a system image from the Windows backup feature:

Step 1: Open the System Image Feature

This is available within the same feature as the partial image backup. To start, you’ll need to type ‘backup’ in the search bar. Once the relevant backup utility to your Windows version opens, you can locate the system image feature. It’s located within the same window, usually at the bottom left corner as ‘System Image Backup’.

Step 2: Choosing the Destination Path

Here, you’ll need to specify where the backup will be saved. In case you’re backing up to an external hard drive, you’ll need to connect the hard drive now. Once it’s connected, it should show up as an option on the backup feature.

It should be noted that you are not allowed to make two system images within the same external hard drive. Users should also make sure that the hard drive has enough storage capacity to complete the system image backup.

Step 3: Selecting any additional External Hard Drives (Optional)

Windows allows users to make multiple system image backups at once. This means that by connecting multiple external hard drives to your computer, you can make multiple system image copies.

Step 4: Confirm the Settings

The final step involves confirming the settings chosen for your system image backup. Once you select the confirm option, your backup will start. The time required for this depends on the storage size of the backup. This usually takes much longer than a partial backup, as a lot of system programs files will also require time to copy.

Data Recovery Process

Windows also provide the feature to recover all of the data that was backed up on the external hard drive. On Windows 7, you can search for this by typing ‘recovery’ in the search bar and then select the recovery option. On Windows 8.1, type ‘PC settings’ and open the settings feature. In the settings feature, select the ‘Update and recovery’ option.

The process to recover all of the information on any computer system depends primarily on the size of the backup. There’s no manual process that needs to be followed, as Windows will help recover this data on its own.