Hard drive crashes and broken computers are common, here are the 5 best ways to backup Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 to keep your files and photos safe, from an external drive to cloud backup that protects from bigger disasters.
As our smartphones, tablets, and other devices have become indispensable to our daily lives, so are the files we store on them. This Windows PC may be the only repository a user has for college term paper or work papers or even photos. Simply put, it’s a good idea to back up your Windows 8 files and photos, and backing them up automatically is a great idea.
As a Windows 8 user, there are several different options you can use for backup, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Cloud backups are how most users store sensitive information these days. Services like CrashPlan and Microsoft’s OneDrive service look at the folders you’ve told them to watch and backup files that have changed since their last check. They then store a copy of this file in the cloud so you can download that file again if something happens to the copy on your PC. Some cloud storage solutions also allow you to access all the files you have backed up via a web browser.
The great thing about cloud backups is that they are not stored on your home devices. If something happens to your home like a fire or flood, your data is safe. It has cons. Cloud backup of everything on your hard drive can take a lot of time. You will also need a fast internet connection to maintain these backups. If you need to change a file without being connected to the internet, this backup will not load until your device finds another internet connection.
Hard drive backups are a slightly less demanding beast. You can still set them to back up automatically, but the information is stored on an external flash drive hard drive. Local backups go much faster, but they can also be dangerous. Since they are stored locally, if anything happens to your home or office, these backups can become absolutely useless after a fire or natural disaster.
Whichever you choose, the important thing is to make sure you back up your data automatically. Don’t rely on yourself to back up your information, rely on something that will always work with this task. After all, life gets in the way sometimes. You don’t want to be stuck with a backup from months ago.
Online Backup with OneDrive
Windows 8.1 users already have a pretty robust online backup tool built into their device. OneDrive It is built into the Windows 8.1 update and allows users who sign in to their computers with a Microsoft Account to automatically back up and store files on Microsoft servers. Users get up to 7GB of storage completely free. Beyond that, users can earn more storage by referring friends or purchasing more packs. Packages start at 50GB of storage for $25 per year. Users can access their files from any smartphone or tablet with the SkyDrive app, and some smartphones like the iPhone 5 and every Windows Phone also support automatic OneDrive image backup.
The only downside to OneDrive is that it isn’t a full backup utility. Yes, it stores files, pictures, videos and more, but it doesn’t back up your programs or an exact copy of your hard drive. One Drive is for files and files only.
Creating System Images of Your Entire Offline Computer
Windows 8 also includes a utility that allows users to create a system image. System images literally allow Windows 8 users to go back to the exact state of their computer when they created that image. It’s not really meant to be a log backup utility. Instead, users should use the System Image to create a copy of their hard drive on a DVD or an external hard drive should their computer need to be restored for any reason. That way they don’t have to reinstall all their programs and files.
Again, System Image is not entirely a backup utility. Instead, it is meant as a last resort plan in case your Windows 8 device is infected with malware or needs to be restored. It’s completely free and can be found in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 by searching for “System Image”.
Saving Files to Hard Drive with File History
File History is built into Windows and is also free. Unlike System Images, File History keeps copies of files and changes you make intact. These changes are then stored on a user-selected Hard Drive. Users can manually override which hard drives are backed up and decide how often they want these files backed up. By default, File History saves backups of files to an external hard drive every hour.
File History relies on a hard drive plugged into your computer, so it’s vulnerable if something happens to your home or office.
To read: How to Backup and Restore Your Windows 8 Files to a Hard Drive
Use CrashPlan to Backup to a Hard Drive or Online
Users who are concerned about having both types of backups should subscribe to: Collision Plan. For $59.99 a year, users can back up their Windows 8 computer, store these files online for access via one of the company’s mobile apps, and store a copy on a local hard drive. The services also offer different tiers so families can back up 10 different Windows 8 devices for as little as $149.99 per year or $13.99 per month.
You can try CrashPlan for free for the first month now.
Automatically Back Up Your Data with Drobo 5D
For users and businesses that want to seriously protect their data, there’s Drobo Beyond. It’s literally a giant box holding four separate hard drives. Users simply install the included software and install the Drobo Beyond. It automatically copies a user’s files and then, if there is more than one hard drive, copies the same files to other hard drives within it. This means users not only have a copy of it, but also a backup copy in case something goes wrong on Drobo Beyond’s first hard drive.
There are cons. If something happens to your home, the Drobo Beyond is likely to be damaged as well, meaning you risk losing files stored on it. It also costs a lot $499.99 at Amazon.
Whichever path you choose, it’s a really good idea to create some kind of backup plan as soon as possible. Files that aren’t backed up can disappear at any time, depriving you of pictures of your family or for official documents you might need later, like tax season.