How to make a backup

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Laptop recommendations here!

A very quick run through regarding backups. There are three types:

  • Automatic Local
  • Automatic Cloud
  • Manual

We consider a “backup” to be a full copy of the entire computer – operating system, programs, and data. Its a backup where if the drive should fail, you can restore everything without reloading. Every other type of backup is partial, most likely data only. The backup device, be it internal or external, should be 2 Terabyte or more in storage capacity. With a large storage backup device, you can make multiple backups of the same computer so if you need to go back a few days or months, you can.

Automatic Local

Local means the backup is stored using a device attached to the computer or laptop. We consider it the primary backup with all other types secondary. For a full system backup we use “Acronis True Image 2020” at a one time cost of $59 along with a storage drive, either internal or external. The storage drive may range from $75 – 199. We set the backup to run be automatically. Acronis also has a version with built in Cloud backup for a $50 annual subscription.

Acronis requires an account be created with them. Our backup installation service includes a full service along with backup configuration, Check out our pricing page for costs and specials. We create a recovery disk, register the product, and configure a full backup to run at a particular time, and most importantly, test extensively. The worst time to find out a backup system was not working is when you need it.

As a bonus we also enable and configure the built-in Windows backup as a second, independent, file only, backup. See below.


Windows 10 has a built-in backup service called “File History”. We enable this using the same backup drive Acronis uses. You may configure it yourself if you wish, assuming you have a large capacity backup drive attached. Do the following to make it work:

  • Search “Backup Settings” using the Windows search at the lower left corner and select “Backup Settings”.
  • You must first search and add the backup device so Windows knows where to send the copy of your data.
  • When the backup device is detected, click “More Options”.
  • You can click “Backup Now” or wait for it to run. The first backup will take a while but it backs up nearly all your data.
  • There is a default list of files to backup, but you may add more if your folder is not on the list.

We have found this type of backup to be pretty reliable. It can restore a single file if needed or an entire folder. It does not backup the operating system, programs, or most files. This type of backup is focused on most of your data, but not all.

Automatic Cloud Backup

“Cloud” is another word for “Internet”. The idea is to make a copy of your data and store it somewhere on the Internet. If your computer fails in some way where you can no longer access your data, you can access the “cloud” drive using another computer. After the computer failure is repaired, you then reconnect to the “cloud” drive and sync your data.

Regarding “cloud” storage, we have had good luck with Dropbox. It just seems to work without much fuss. To make Dropbox work, store all your files in a folder called “DropBox”. Whatever is in the folder will get copied to the Dropbox. It’s free up to a point, then you have to buy more space if needed. It’s pretty cheap. It might be better known as “file sharing”. However, if you don’t do any sharing with others, which is the default, it’s just a copy of your data stored in the cloud just like a backup.

Manual Backup

This is what it sounds like – inserting some device, be it a flash drive or external hard drive into a USB port and manually making a copy of your data. This is very unreliable and prone to mistakes or forgetfulness. After the first or second time, backing up is forgotten.

However, manual backups do have a place. Some programs, such as Quickbooks, a financial program, have a built-in backup program that can easily backup their own data only. Insert a simple flash drive and run the backup from inside the program. We keep it with us when we leave for the day, in the event things go really, really wrong and the place burns down.

Contact us with any questions!

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