How to properly back up your computer

Local Backup

1.Mac OS X: Time Machine

If you’re on a Mac, then you already have a great backup tool at your fingertips called Time Machine. In fact, there’s probably an icon for it that’s been waiting at the top of your menu bar. Simply take an external drive (see above), plug it into your computer, and open up Time Machine to configure it as a backup drive. Time Machine will more or less handle the rest, backing up individual files, folders, and apps. And if you get a new machine or need to reset your computer completely, OS X will prompt you to provide a Time Machine backup to restore from. Just make sure to be good about plugging in your drive regularly to actually do the backups; a backup that’s three years old is better than nothing, but the more often you back up, the better covered you’ll be in case of an emergency.

2.Windows 10: File History / Backup and Restore

Microsoft has added integrated backups to Windows 10, and it works pretty much the same way as on a Mac. Plug in your external drive, and navigate over to File History. (You can either search for this in the Start menu, or find it in the Settings app in the “Backups” portion.) There, you’ll be able to select specific folders to back up, and how often you’d like Windows to back things up. Just like on a Mac, though, you’ll need to actually plug in your drive for your files to actually get backed up.

Cloud Storage

Local backups are good, but much like your actual hard drive, they’re also prone to getting lost, damaged, or stolen. So it’s probably worth investing in some cloud storage options as a backup backup, just in case.

For individual files — like, say, an important copy of a presentation, or your big lab report that’s due next week — the simplest way to back up to the cloud is with providers like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or iCloud. All of them allow you to install an app that scans a local folder and keeps everything in it uploaded to the cloud. That way, even if your whole computer gets hosed, you’ll still be able to log in and access it from anywhere.


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