How to Set Up File Backups in Windows 10

how to set up file backups in windows 10

Routine file backups are an essential way to protect against losing any important data on your hard-drive. Windows 10 comes with tools and features that make backing up your data easy.

A sudden hard-drive failure or virus can be devastating, especially if you lose all of your photos, documents, and other valuable data. On a computer you use for work, such a loss can be a costly setback.

For large companies, or even startups and small businesses, file backups are critical for recovering from a cyberattack incident or as part of your disaster recovery plan. During the most devastating cyberattack in history, known as NotPetya, file backups were crucial for recovery when malware crippled the IT systems of multiple companies and government agencies.

Creating File Backups

File Backup allows you to make copies of individuals, as well as groups of files that you have stored on your PC.

Windows 10 has a number of features built into it that allow you to perform simple file backups.

Using File History

File History is a feature that allows you to make regular, scheduled, copies of the personal data on your PC and store it on an external drive.

Always ensure you have at least one external backup for your important files.

To set up File History:

  • Open the Start Menu and click on Settings
  • In the menu that appears select Update & Security and then click on the Backup section to view the relevant options
  • In the right-hand panel you’ll see a section entitled Back Up Using File History, and beneath this is an option to Add a Drive.
  • Click on the plus (+) symbol next to this and you’ll see a list of any external hard drives connected to your PC. If you have multiple drives connected then you can just click on the one that you want to use.
  • When you return to the Backup section now you’ll see that the option has changed from Add A Drive to Automatically Back Up My Files. By default, this option is switched on.
    You can turn this option off or on whenever you want to, but it’s best to leave it on so that future backups automatically take place at regular intervals. You can also specify how often your File History backups take place, and which files and folders you include.
  • By default, File History creates backups of your files once an hour, but if you want it to start straight away then you can just click the button marked Back Up Now.

Other Features 

  • In File History, there is a pull-down menu that allows you to specify how often your backups take place.
  • Making regular backups of your files can take up a lot of space on your external hard drive, so there’s a second pull-down menu that tells File History how long it should keep all those backups.
  • You can also tell Windows 10 to delete older backups automatically, which will prevent your hard drive from filling up too quickly.
  • To view the folders in your User Account just go to the Users folder on your main C:Drive and click the folder that has your personal account name – ie C:/Users/Bob.
  • You can also make backups of files that you store in other folders too. Just click Add A Folder to open a file browser window that allows you to select the folders you want.
  • An Exclude button lets you remove folders from your backup schedule.

Information Security Policies about Backups

Many businesses cover data backups in their information security policies and procedures. These policies may be adapted from security policy templates, developed by a security consultant you hire, or even custom-generated for your infosec program by our Securicy app.

The important thing for a business, of any size, is to make sure that you and your team have a plan to backup your critical data and systems. Backups can be an easy, and potentially free, way to protect your business if disaster strikes.


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