Windows 10 Backup: How to create an automatic backup

Windows 10 Backup: Data is the gold of the 21st century. Therefore, regular backups are mandatory. Windows 10 comes with an automatic backup function. We show you how to set up and use them.

When did you make your last backup? So data backed up on another data carrier? Especially under Windows, backups are often neglected.

It takes a lot of time that the normal Windows users don’t have or just don’t want to invest.

That is not very wise, however. Hard drives and SSDs are vulnerable, not to mention USB sticks and SD cards. Files and folders are quickly deleted or accidentally changed.

Therefore, it makes sense to automatically create regular backups of the files. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in tool for this.

Prepare Windows 10 Backup: Format backup hard disk

To prepare a hard disk for backup, follow these steps:

  1. Get a fresh external USB hard drive with a capacity at least twice that of your internal drive. If your computer has a 500 gigabyte SSD – buy one with a terabyte hard drive, which is now available for around 60 euros. No SSD is required for the backup, the technology is overpriced for this purpose.
  2. Connect the hard disk to your Windows PC. You can find the connected hard disk using the basic Windows Explorer.
  3. Right-click the hard disk and select “Format”. Your backup hard disk can have a different name. You can rename it if you want.Prepare Windows 10 Backup Format backup hard disk
  4. In the Format window, select NTFS as the”File system”. Also enter a meaningful name under “Volume label”, e.g. “Backup”. Attention: This hard disk should be used exclusively as backup hard disk and for nothing else! Then click on “Start” to format the drive.
  5. Confirm the warning message with “OK”. The hard disk is now formatted.hard disk is now formatted

6. Click on “OK” and close the formatting window with “Close”. The hard disk is now formatted and set up for the use as a backup drive.

Setting up automatic Windows backups

How to set up Windows 10 Backup in 9 steps:

  1. Windows 10 has an automatic backup function called”File history”. This function is also available under Windows 8; the easiest way to access it under Windows 10 is to enter”Backup settings” or”File history” in the Cortana field.
  2. Click on the search result above. A settings window of the backup settings opens.Setting up automatic Windows backups
  3. Click on “Add a drive” and select the hard disk you just formatted.
  4. That’s it: Windows 10 takes the new drive for automatic backups. The button “Automatically back up my files” should already be activated. Click on “More options” anyway.
  5. Here you can specify more precisely how the backup is to be performed. First select the option “Hourly” under “Save my files”: This ensures that as little data as possible is lost in the event of a crash. Also, under”Keep my backups”, select”Always” to ensure a reliable backup.
  6. Very important: You must now define what you want to save. To do this, check that the correct folders are selected in the list. If necessary, use”Add Folder” to add folders that Windows has not automatically selected.
  7. Now scroll all the way down: Here you will find the option “Exclude these folders”. You can use these to exclude unnecessary folders, such as the browser cache. This keeps the backup slim, but is normally not necessary.
  8. Now click on “Save now” at the top of the window to start the first backup. This can take a relatively long time because all files are copied to the external hard disk once. However, the file version history is incremental, which means that Windows only transfers the changes since the last backup to the backup hard disk for the next backups, which is much faster.
  9. Done: As soon as the menu item “Last backup” is displayed, the backup is created.

Windows 10 Backups: Recovering data

But why all this? Windows now creates hourly backups of the latest changes in the background. This means that the files are always available on a second drive.

Therefore, always leave the external hard disk on your PC. If you do need to unplug it, for example on a notebook, Windows will wait until the hard disk is connected again to create the next backup.

You can now restore old file versions if you accidentally modified, saved or deleted a file:

  1. Right-click the file and select “Restore previous version”.
  2. Select the appropriate version based on the date and click on “Restore”.Windows 10 Backups Recovering data
  3. Alternatively, you can also restore a deleted file: Enter “File history” in the Cortana search bar. Select “Restore files with file history”.
  4. In the search box at the top right, enter the file name or navigate to the folder where the file was saved. All changed files are displayed here. Double-click the file you want to restore.
  5. The file is now displayed. To save them back to their original location, click the button with the green anticlockwise arrow below. Of course, you can also restore folders in this way.

“Having one or more Backups can be especially helpful in case you got a virus on your device”, says Leonardo, “You can, in few steps, get rid of the malicious virus or malware by loading your latest backup before the virus occurred.”

Security against system crashes?

Unfortunately, the file version history does not protect against system crashes. It is supposed to detect automatically if the file version history is activated on the new computer and the hard disk with the old backups is mounted.

However, this is not documented and did not work in our test with several computers. Therefore, it is safer to protect yourself from data loss by copying your user folder to a USB stick or other drive from time to time – once a week, for example.

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