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Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. Amidst many changes Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider In Windows 10, Microsoft seriously overhauled maintenance features. Especially Windows Update is causing some headache. We provide you with an overview of new settings and show you which third party tools you still need. Read More , Microsoft has been stepping up its backup game without dropping tried and tested features. Windows 10 is well prepared for the cloud based storage revolution and still offers everything you need to secure files locally.

We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again!

Local Storage Backup

Local storage is the practice of saving your files onto physical locations such as your PC or onto a thumb drive. These are safe and readily accessible methods of saving files which do not require an Internet connection.

File History

File History is a relatively new method of securely saving files onto a separate pen drive (available for Windows 8 and 10).

To find the File History program, hit the Windows Key, search for file history and click Restore your files with File History. You can also access this program in your Control Panel under Windows Key + X > Control Panel > System and Security > File History.

The difference between File History and a simple file transfer is its ability to schedule backups regularly onto your thumb drive. From the File History window, click on Configure File History settings to get started.

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File History automatically finds external storage devices plugged into your computer.

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Before turning the File History on, click on the Advanced settings and set your preferred schedule.

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Save your changes and Turn on File History in order to keep your backups safe and documented. By default, File History only copies files from: Libraries, Desktop, Contacts, and Favorites.

System Restore

System Restore How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it works. Read More is a long-time companion of Windows and a convenient method of backing up your system image along with regularly used files.

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To find system restore press the Windows key, then search for restore point and click Create a system restore. As a faithful user of System Restore, I can assure its necessity when experimenting with driver downloads and obscure software. Microsoft writes:

Sometimes, the installation of a program or a driver can cause an unexpected change to your computer or cause Windows to behave unpredictably. Usually, uninstalling the program or driver corrects the problem. If uninstalling doesn’t fix the problem, you can try restoring your computer’s system to an earlier date when everything worked correctly. — Microsoft.com

Simply create a restore point to a point where your Windows machine is working regularly to have a safe state of your PC. To restore to a previous point, open the Create a system restore window and click on the System Restore button to get started.  Though this program does not allow the user to access particular documents, System restore is great to save states of your PC in case of any operating system (OS) failure. If you’re interesting in a fail-safe method to toy around with your computer’s OS, look into virtual machine software What Is a Virtual Machine? What Is a Virtual Machine? Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems within your current operating system, but why does that matter? What are the pros and cons? Read More . What Is a Virtual Machine? What Is a Virtual Machine? Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems within your current operating system, but why does that matter? What are the pros and cons? Read More

Backup and Restore

Backup and Restore, not to be confused with System Restore, is a program originally available in Windows 7, which backs up data files from your system library and any particular file and folder (or all files and folders) present on your hard drive.

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Backup and Restore provides a bit more freedom to back up files than File History, while File History has the added advantage of providing regular logs of your backups. Like File History, Back and Restore also provides regularly scheduled backups. You can even continually backup your whole hard drive to an external or alternative internal hard drive, doing away with the the need for third-party backup software.

To launch Backup and Restore, go to Start to search and pick Backup and Restore. Our Backup and Restore guide How To Set Up & Use Windows 7 Backup & Restore Feature How To Set Up & Use Windows 7 Backup & Restore Feature It's hardly a secret when I tell you that sooner or later you will need a backup of your personal data. Do you have one right now? What keeps most people from preparing regular backups... Read More will show you how to set up your first backup.

Recovery Drive Creator

Windows 10 conveniently offers a program named Recovery Drive Creator, which creates backup system files of your OS. You can then use this recovery drive to install or re-install Windows in case anything tragic happens to the PC.

To access this tool, go to Start (press the Windows key), search for recovery drive, and select Create a recovery drive.

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The process is straightforward and saves you the pain of dealing with less reputable third-party USB recovery software. Microsoft thankfully provides a clear, concise and official Wiki article on how to use the program.

System Repair Disc

Along with creating a recovery thumb drive, Windows 10 allows you to create a recovery CD to back up your PC. To find this option open Start, search for backup and restore, and pick Backup and Restore (Windows 7). You have the option to Create a system repair disc on the left-hand side of the window. Note that this requires a CD/DVD drive.

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Creating a system repair disc — like a Recovery Drive — is a simple and straightforward process. Microsoft has also been kind enough to provide an official article covering the program and its features as well.

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Alternatively, you can use these tools to create a Windows rescue disk 5 Best Rescue Disks For A Windows System Restore 5 Best Rescue Disks For A Windows System Restore Every Windows user should be aware of at least one bacon-saving, data-recovering system restore disk. It can help you access your computer to make repairs and backups, even when it won't boot. Read More .

Third-Party Backup Software

Third-party backup software is a tricky subject, considering the wavering quality of their backups. Certain hard drive companies however, like the folks at Western Digital, provide free software like Acronis True Image WD Edition Software under their Downloads section, so be sure to check your hard drive creator’s website to ensure you are using proper backup software for your particular PC.

Acronis True Image WD Edition can clone drives, backup the operating system, applications, settings and all of your data, while also securely wiping any confidential data you no longer need. Acronis True Image WD Edition provides you with all the essential tools you need to recover your computer system should a disaster occur, such as losing data, accidentally deleting critical files or folders, or a complete hard disk crash. If failures occur that block access to information or affect system operation, you will be able to restore the system and the lost data easily. — Support.wdc.com

If you are going to use a third-party software to back up your computer, please be sure to study up on the software A Single Backup Software is Enough: Is Bvckup 2 the One? A Single Backup Software is Enough: Is Bvckup 2 the One? Backups don't have to be tedious or annoying. With the right tool, backups happen in the background without you having to think about them. We can help you find the right tool. Read More before putting your digital life in its hands.

Cloud Storage Backup

Cloud based storage What Is The Cloud? What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More doesn’t depend on your thumb or hard drive. In fact, it doesn’t depend on you at all; cloud based storage is an increasingly popular method The NSA Is Storing Its Data In The Cloud. But Is It Secure? The NSA Is Storing Its Data In The Cloud. But Is It Secure? In the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, the National Security Agency (NSA) is turning to cloud storage for their data. After they have collected information about you, how secure will it be? Read More of backing up both personal and system files (along with a slew of other things), while also keeping those files accessible anywhere there’s an Internet connection.

OneDrive

OneDrive is a popular cloud-based storage outlet made by Microsoft, which provides up to 15 GB of free storage How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage OneDrive gives you a healthy dose of cloud storage for free. Let's take a look at what you can do with that. Read More  if you were lucky enough to sign up and claim it in time, and 5 GB for everyone else.

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After you download and install OneDrive, the storage system shows up in your File Explorer as a normal USB or external memory storage drive would. Simply sign into your Microsoft Live account The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More and you can enjoy the cloud storage space.

You can even access your files on the go using the mobile OneDrive application available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The prices for additional storage are compatible with other cloud based storage companies, such as Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider In Windows 10, Microsoft seriously overhauled maintenance features. Especially Windows Update is causing some headache. We provide you with an overview of new settings and show you which third party tools you still need. Read More .

Microsoft Azure Backup

Last year, Microsoft announced anyone with a Windows 10 system can seamlessly back up their files in a cloud-based service named Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure is a subscription based online backup system, which promises to keep your files safe and sound as well as secure Five Ways a Thief Can Profit From Your Stolen Hardware Five Ways a Thief Can Profit From Your Stolen Hardware Criminals steal your PC, your laptop, your smartphone, either by burglarising your house, or by snatching them from you. But then what happens? What can thieves do with your stolen tech? Read More .

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But don’t be mislead into thinking Microsoft Azure is only a backup software; there are many great facets to Microsoft Azure, which makes it an impressive and easy to use cloud based program.

Microsoft has been very insistent on providing official resources explaining how to download, install, and configure Azure Backup to facilitate the process. This goes even further regarding the complete Microsoft Azure program. To learn about how you can use Microsoft Azure as a competent and savvy business resource, head over to the Microsoft Azure YouTube channel.

Honorable Mention: NAS Systems NAS vs the Cloud: Which Remote Storage Is Right for You? NAS vs the Cloud: Which Remote Storage Is Right for You? Network Attached Storage (NAS) straddles the line between a local hard drive and cloud storage, and gives you the benefits of both. Read More

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems. NAS systems are essentially collections of hard drives, which are accessible via a network connection. Because you actually own these systems, you are more in control of who and what can access your files and information.

Although cloud storage is more widely used for its simplicity and rapid affordability, it may not be the most secure option How A "Minor" Data Breach Made Headline News & Ruined Reputations How A "Minor" Data Breach Made Headline News & Ruined Reputations Read More for your sensitive documents and information.

NAS_system

The price and security of a NAS system makes them great for small businesses or large volumes of information that are better left kept in physical form, as well as allowing more technologically savvy users access to network attached RAID arrays What Is RAID Storage & Can I Use It On My Home PC? [Technology Explained] What Is RAID Storage & Can I Use It On My Home PC? [Technology Explained] RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and it’s a core feature of server hardware that ensures data integrity. It’s also just a fancy word for two or more hard disks connected... Read More . In short, NAS machines are personal, scalable, and manageable clouds.

For the average user, however, the benefits of a NAS system above cloud storage for backups are negligible, and cloud based storage systems are often easier to use and cheaper up front to manage.

Beep, Beep, Beep

Backing up is a safeguard 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More often underutilized and underappreciated by the average user. That is, until something bad happens and those priceless photos of Coachella 2008 are left faded and forgotten. Don’t allow the experience of reading three year old writing samples of your “Gothic pseudo-fiction” phase to pass you by; never be without your important files and folders again!

What programs and methods do you use to keep your files secure? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: Bank Vault by Nerthuz via Shutterstock

  1. James R.
    October 12, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Hi Christian,

    First: How to use this site?

    Second: Above, there's a Title, Author, Date, Minutes, ie:

    The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide
    By: Christian Bonilla
    May 10, 2016
    8 minutes

    Where's that 8-minute video, how to find and watch it?

    Thanks and regards,
    James

  2. Christian Bonilla
    May 24, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you for your recommendation; here's hoping non-techies take it into consideration!

  3. James Hanson
    May 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I disagree with the statement of wavering quality with 3rd party software. I mean I understand there's a lot of bloatware and whatnot out there but I've backed up and reimaged my drive with third party software for years. I used Acronis TI then switched to Drive Cloner as it was compatible with my Rollback rx.

    Only thing I'll say is if you're going to go the 3rd party disk imager route, don't cheap out. If you go for free, they don't have the technology to adapt the disk image to different hardware configs and the like. Of course with the cost of storage media and the disk imager, in a lot of cases you're talking $150 to $200. If you're not prepared to pay that, stick with a snapshot tool like Comodo Time Machine or Rollback rx which are free.

    • Christian Bonilla
      May 24, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you for your comment, James! As far as your disagreement is concerned, I see your point. I do notice, however, that you have - after careful consideration, I would assume - prefer some third party backup programs over others. That's great! All I ask when using such software is that the user consider rigorously testing and experimenting with a program before entrusting it with their data.

      Your helpful, informative comment is duly noted and appreciated.

  4. jacksonX
    May 11, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Backup and Restore of my WIndows 7 is good to help me create system images. But last time I though of upgrading my disk while keeping all data on, I still needed a third party software in order to make job easy. Anyway, I was so lucky to find a free one called AOMEI Backupper, it helped me to clone my entire old drive to a new one just within several steps.

  5. Gavin Phillips
    May 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Nice one, Christian, great read.

    • Christian Bonilla
      May 24, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      That's high praise, thanks Gavin!

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