How to Manually Backup Your Computer

How to Manually Backup Your Computer

Linda Lindquist, 239-567-0104

One practice that is often overlooked is backing up your computer files.  This can be done manually to an external storage device like a flash drive or an external hard drive. 

Why backup your files?

Your computer files, your documents, spreadsheets, and pictures are unique and precious to you.  They are irreplaceable and could be irretrievable if your hard disk drive crashes or the computer refuses to boot up.  You should periodically create a duplicate copy on another storage device (not your computer) to prevent losing those files.

How big of a backup storage device do you need?

To determine how much data there is on your computer and what type of External storage device to choose:

  1. Open the FILE EXPLORER
  2. Your files are stored in Libraries under the THIS PC folder in Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders
  3. Right click on each folder, then click PROPERTIES, and record the number in SIZE (round up to nearest whole number).  Then add them all together. 
  4. This is the minimum size of the backup storage device that you need.
  5. If you have less than 8 GB, you can back up to a 16 GB USB flash drive.
  6. If you have more than 32 GB, a USB external storage device would be a better choice.

How much does external storage cost?

  • A 16 GB USG Flash Drive costs roughly $15 - $20.  Choose a size that is at least twice the size of your data.  They also come in 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB, but they cost more as the size increases,
  • A USB external storage device costs about $60-$80 for 1TB and about $80-$120 for 2 TB of storage space.  This would be enough for a lifetime of storage.
  • Choose a USB 3.0 device, if possible since they are much faster than USB 2.0.

Procedure to manually back up your files?

  1. Open the FILE EXPLORER
  2. Plug your USB storage device into a USB port on your computer.  Note its drive letter (e.g., F: )
  3. Your files are stored in Libraries under the THIS PC folder in Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders
  4. Right click on each folder, then click SEND TO and click on the Drive Letter of the External Storage Device from the menu. Do one at a time and let them finish.
  5. The procedure for Desktop is slightly different.  Call me to help you.


How often to back up?

What you have created is a duplicate copy of your files on the External Storage Device that reflect your files on the date that you backed the up.  Depending on how often you change the content of your files, you will want to schedule a backup again for an interval that makes you comfortable.   

Pitfalls of manual backup?

A problem with manual backup is that we often just forget to schedule periodic backups!!  Should you need to put your data on a new computer, any files created or modified since the last manual backup may be lost.

Is there automated backup?

The best solution is to automate the process.  When a file is added or changed, that change gets made to your backup copy.  I like backup to the cloud because it is not at the same location as your computer.    Your personal files are safe should a hacker encrypt or lock your files and demand a ransom to access them again. Even if your computer is damaged by lightning, fire, or flood (God forbid), your personal data is safe "off-site" and can be recovered onto a new computer, if needed.

Carbonite backup services offers secure, unlimited file storage for a low fixed price -- a perfect solution!  This solution costs $85 a year. 

Contact me if you want help backing up your files or to purchase Carbonite and have it installed on your Computer.