As Windows 11 adoption continues for PC users worldwide, a solid backup data strategy for home users is required. With the affordability of portable storage, gone are the days when anyone should not be backing up their valuable personal data, such as photos, taxes, etc. Cloud-based technologies provide convenience for backup and transporting files, but you are hard-pressed to find large capacity at low dollars. On average, a monthly subscription fee to a cloud storage provider runs in the neighbourhood of $50 – $100 a year. An external hard drive provides a cost-effective solution for maintaining a backup if something should happen to your original data. So you may wonder how to back up Windows 11 data with affordable storage.
- My computer is less than a year old. Shouldn’t my hard drive data be safe for at least a few years?
- Ok, you convinced me. So I went out and bought a USB hard drive. Should I plug it in and start my backup?
- My drive is ready for action. How do I get my data over on Windows 11?
- Complement Your Data Backup
- Common Windows 11 Backup Questions
My computer is less than a year old. Shouldn’t my hard drive data be safe for at least a few years?
In an ideal world, yes. Nothing would ever break down, and user error would be unheard of. The fact of the matter is we need to protect ourselves. According to an article by Lifehacker (How Long Your Hard Drive is Likely to Last), 80% of the average consumer’s hard drives will last four years. The issue is hard drive failure is not the only reason why you should be backing up. Ransomware, a power blip that causes data corruption and accidental deletion, are recurring events today outside our control.
Ok, you convinced me. So I went out and bought a USB hard drive. Should I plug it in and start my backup?
As most drives come pre-formatted, you could plug it in and go. Perhaps think about how you want to use this new-to-you storage instead. I recommend people take the extra few seconds before using the drive to assess how they will use it. Will you require access to the data on multiple computers? Will those computers use different operating systems like Windows 11, macOS, or Linux? After answering those quick questions, you should probably format the drive yourself using one of the format methods (please refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_formatting for more information on formatting drives) that best suit your needs. Proper disk format can help avoid other data access problems later on.
My drive is ready for action. How do I get my data over on Windows 11?
If you know which files are vital and are savvy enough to know where they are, a simple copy/paste will be sufficient. If you want to take the added step towards a better guarantee using Windows 11 automation, use the built-in feature Backup and Restore. This feature will backup data files from system libraries, on your desktop, and in default Windows folders. These items will back up on a regular schedule of your choosing. It can also create a backup image of your entire system, including the operating system, applications, and settings.
The steps to do this with Windows 11 are as follows: (clicks are highlighted in yellow.)
Step 1. Control Panel –> System and Security –> Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
Yes, these steps are for a Windows 11 Operating system.
Step 2. Click Set up backup.
Step 3. Select the USB Drive as your destination, and click Next.
Step 4. Select Let Windows Choose (recommended), then click Next.
Note: You may select Let me choose to select specific libraries and folders, and an option to include a system image in your backup. Your choices will be backed up on a regular schedule.
Step 5. Click the Save settings and run backup button.
Note: The default setting is to automatically backup files Every Sunday at 7:00 PM, but you can easily change this by clicking the Change schedule link before clicking the Save settings and run backup button.
Complement Your Data Backup
Now that you have set up a file backup regime, it does not mean you can forget about the care of your data. You should still ensure that you have good quality and up-to-date anti-virus / anti-malware software installed on your computer to prevent future damage to your system. On top of that, you might find it worthwhile to transfer the backed-up files to another location, such as a second portable drive or another computer. This will ensure that you still have a copy should the ones on your original computer become corrupted and you either lose or break your backup.
On a side note, many portable drives from reputable manufacturers come with pre-installed and proprietary software. Although the software’s functionality is relatively sound, I typically shy away from using it if required to use the drive on more than one system; it means you will need to install the software multiple times. Often it is bloatware, and with the backup function built into most operating systems, the software found on the drive is not always required.
Common Windows 11 Backup Questions
What are some affordable backup storage solutions for Windows 11?
You can use external hard drives, USB drives, or cloud storage services to back up your Windows 11 data.
Can I back up my entire Windows 11 system?
Yes, you can use 3rd-party backup software or the built-in Windows 11 functionality that allows you to create a complete system backup, including all files, programs, and system settings.
How long does it take to back up Windows 11 data?
The time it takes to back up your data depends on the amount of data you’re backing up and the speed of your backup storage device.
What’s the difference between full and incremental backups?
Full backups create a copy of all your data, while incremental backups only copy the data that has changed since the last backup.
How can I ensure the security of my backed-up Windows 11 data?
You can encrypt your backup data to prevent unauthorized access, choose a secure password for your backup device, and store your backup device in a safe location.
Do you have any tips or other solutions you use to protect your data? Be sure to share them in the comment section below!