How to backup your data in Windows 10

Your digital memories might be just a computer theft or a spilled coffee mug about to be lost forever. In this article, we explain how to back up your data in different ways: locally, in the cloud, in a system image or with a specialized tool like Carbonite.

Back up your files locally
Save your documents in the cloud
Create a system image
Save with a specialized tool

Your computer isn’t just a tool you use for work or for information. More and more, it is the compendium of your digital life. Your old college assignments, presentations you’ve worked on throughout your career, tax returns, family photos, music, and home videos are there.

All of this valuable information is saved on a fragile device and in some cases easy to steal; a bit like keeping your most important documents in a cardboard safe.

Good technological hygiene – which includes backup copies that are continuously recorded, and kept both locally and in the cloud – can fortunately protect you against all eventualities.

In the following paragraphs, we will explain how to make backup copies in Windows 10.

Back up your files locally

Keeping a copy of your files at home is the easiest and most economical way to protect your documents.

You have two options for saving your backup copies: an external drive or a network drive. External drives are affordable (around $ 65 to $ 150 for 1 terabyte [To] space) and easy to use; just plug them in with a USB cable to use them.

Network drives (known by the acronym NAS, for network-attached storage) are not connected to your computer, but rather to your router. This is an interesting option not to clutter your USB ports, to back up files from several devices and to obtain a very large capacity (10 TB, for example). However, their price is higher: generally $ 250 and more for an entry-level model.

Back up your files with File History

On your computer, find out where the files that are important to you are located. Some people keep their documents in spaces designated by Windows 10 by default (Documents, Pictures, etc.), but others have their own saving habits; on a second hard drive, for example, or in a folder at the root of the C: drive.

Do not forget documents (Word, Excel, PDF, etc.), music, photos, videos, backup files from your software and any other files that you would no longer have access to if you lost your computer.

In the Windows 10 toolbar search window, find and follow the link to Backup settings. Click on Add reader in the section Backup using File History. Select your external or network drive from the list offered.


The default Windows 10 backup options are grouped together in the operating system settings.

Click on More options, under the menu Backup using File History. In the list on the left of the screen, add the folders you want to make copies of by clicking on Add folder. You can also choose to exclude certain folders in the section Exclude folders, if you don’t want to share personal files on a network drive with the whole family, for example. Click on Save now to start the first backup.

Restore your files with File History

There is a way to recover all your backup copies created with Windows 10 at once by searching and following the link for Backup settings in the Windows 10 toolbar. Click on More options under the menu Backup using File History, then select Restore files from a current backup at the bottom of the page.

The tool File History also archives the different saved versions of a document over time. Right-click on a file on your computer in File Explorer and select Restore previous versions to retrieve an old version.


File History allows access to old versions of a document.

Save your documents in the cloud

Keeping a copy of your documents on an external drive is not enough: you must also keep one in a cloud service to protect yourself in the event of theft or accident. These services also offer real-time synchronization, which allows you to never lose data between the time of backups. You can then view your files from anywhere in the world, even without your computer.


The easiest option is to use Microsoft’s OneDrive storage service. The company offers a free plan of 5 gigabytes (GB), one of 100 GB for $ 24 per year or another 1 TB (including the Microsoft Office suite) for $ 79 per year. A family plan is also available (up to 6 TB, which includes the Microsoft Office suite for six users) for $ 109 per year.

To activate the service, launch the OneDrive application, already installed with Windows 10. Register your Microsoft account, choose the location of your OneDrive folder (which is installed by default on your main hard drive) and follow the instructions at the screen. You will have the option to save only the documents contained in the OneDrive folder, or to also add those from the Documents, Pictures and Desktop folders to it. These can also be added later in the application settings (using a right mouse click on the OneDrive folder).

Once the installation is complete, your documents will be accessible both online (at and on your PC.

However, note that OneDrive does not allow you to sync folders stored elsewhere than on your hard drive, for example on an external drive. You can however forward them to the OneDrive folder.


You can access your files stored in OneDrive both online and on your computer.

Google Disk

While OneDrive works well when you back up your files to your regular Windows folders, Google Drive offers more flexibility for those whose documents are spread across multiple hard drives. Online storage space is offered through the Google One service, which offers 15 GB of free space; 100 GB for $ 27.99 per year; 200 GB for $ 39.99 per year; or 2TB for $ 139.99 per year.

Google Drive can be used to upload files manually over the Internet, but also to sync folders of your choice on your Mac or Windows computer. If you choose this service, activate your account at, then download and install the Backup and Sync from Google software from

Launch Backup and Sync from Google and register your Google account. By default, Google backs up the Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders on your computer. Click on Select a folder to add folders located elsewhere on your hard drive.

Just like with OneDrive, documents saved in a synced folder will be accessible at all times, both online and on your computer.


Any folder on your computer can be added to your Google Drive space.

Create a system image

Backing up your documents to an external hard drive and online does not recover your software, settings, and operating system. Instead, you’ll need to create a system image, which is a backup copy of your entire computer. In 2020, however, most software can be easily downloaded and reinstalled; this option is therefore generally not necessary.

The method also has flaws: you will not be able to use it to recover specific files, and backups take up a lot of space. There is also no guarantee that the recovery will work on a device other than yours – especially if it is lost.

If you still want to create a system image (to keep specific software or the configuration of an accessory, for example), find and follow the link for Backup settings in the Windows 10 toolbar. Go to the section Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and click on Create a system image. Select a medium to save your image to and follow the onscreen instructions.

How to recover your copy of Windows 10?

To reinstall a backup copy, find and follow the link for Backup settings in the Windows 10 toolbar. Go to the section Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and select a backup copy under the section Restore. Then follow the on-screen instructions.


A single system image can occupy hundreds of gigabytes (GB) of space.

Save with a specialized tool

Some specialized software can also back up your data. They sometimes offer features not found in Google and Microsoft services and can be more affordable for those with a lot of data.

This is particularly the case with Carbonite, which offers unlimited cloud storage starting at US $ 72 (approximately CA $ 100) per year. This software allows you to choose what types of documents and folders you want to back up automatically, but the videos must be added manually. The Plus plan, at US $ 112 (approximately CA $ 150) per year, offers all the features of the basic plan, in addition to automatically backing up videos and allowing your data to be saved on your external hard drive.

The Advanced plan of the Acronis True Image 2020 service, meanwhile, allows you to back up both system images and documents – both on an external hard drive and online – from US $ 69.99 (around 100 $ CA) per year for 500 GB.

For its part, Backblaze offers unlimited cloud backup for just US $ 60 (about CA $ 80) per year, but its online interface doesn’t have as many features as those of OneDrive or Google Drive. However, the service allows you to receive a copy of your data on a USB key (US $ 99; approximately CA $ 135) or on an external drive (US $ 189; approximately CA $ 255), all by courier.


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