Hard drive crashes and broken computers are common, here are the 5 best ways to back up Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 to keep your files and photos safe from an external drive to cloud backup that protects your data from bigger disasters.
As our smartphones, tablets and other devices have become essential to our everyday lives so too have the files we store on them. That Windows PC could be the only repository a user has of their college term paper or work documents and even their photos. Simply put, it’s a good idea to back up your Windows 8 files and photos and it’s a great idea to back them up automatically.
As a Windows 8 users there are more than a few different options available to you for backing up and each comes with its own distinct set of strengths and weaknesses.
Cloud backups are how most users store their sensitive information these days. Services like CrashPlan and Microsoft’s OneDrive service simply look around in the folders you tell them to monitor and back up any files that have been changed since they last checked. They then store a copy of that file in the cloud so that you can download that file again should something happen to the copy on your PC. Some cloud storage solutions also allow you to reach any files you’ve backed up through a web browser.
The great thing about cloud backups are that they’re not stored on devices in your home. Should something ever happen to your home like a fire or flood, your data is safe. There are cons. Cloud backups of everything on your hard drive could take a lot of time. You’ll also need a speedy internet connection to maintain those back ups. If you should change a file without being connected to the internet, that back up won’t upload until your device finds another internet connection.
Hard drive backups are a slightly less demanding beast. You can still set these to back up automatically, however the information is stored on an external hard drive of flash drive. Local backups go a lot faster but they can also be dangerous. Because they’re stored locally, if something happens to your home or office, those backups could be rendered absolutely useless after a fire or natural disaster.
Regardless of which you choose, the important thing is to make sure that you’re backing up your data automatically. Don’t rely on yourself to back up your information, trust that task to something that’s going to always be working. After all, life sometimes gets in the way. You don’t want to be stuck with a back up that’s months old.
Back Up Online with OneDrive
Windows 8.1 users already have a pretty robust online backup tool built into their devices. OneDrive is built into the Windows 8.1 update and allows users who’ve signed into their PC with a Microsoft Account to automatically back up and store files on Microsoft’s servers. Users get up to 7GB of storage absolutely free. Beyond that users can earn more storage by recommending friends or by purchasing more in bundles. Bundles start at 50GB of storage space for $25 a year. Users can get access to their files on any smartphone or tablet with a SkyDrive app and some smartphones, like the iPhone 5 and every Windows Phone, support automated OneDrive picture back up too.
The only downside to OneDrive is that it’s not meant as a complete backup utility. Yes, it stores files, pictures, videos and more, however it won’t back up your programs or a complete copy of your hard drive. One Drive is exclusively for files and files alone.
Creating System Images For Your Entire PC Offline
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 state their computer was in the moment they created that exact image. It’s not really meant as an everyday backup utility. Instead, users should use System Image to create a copy of their hard drive on a DVD or on an external hard drive for when their computer needs to be restored for any reason. This way they don’t have to reinstall all of their programs and files.
Again, System Image isn’t a completely backup utility. Instead, it’s meant as a plan of last resort in the event your Window 8 device gets infected with malware or has to be restored. It’s completely free and is found in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 by searching “System Image.”
Save Files on a Hard Drive with File History
File History is built into Windows and it’s also free. Unlike System Images, File History will store copies of files and any changes you make as they happen. These changes are then stored on a Hard Drive the user selects. Users can manually override which of their hard drives are backed up and decide how often they want those files back up. By default File History saves backups of files on an external hard drive every hour.
File History relies on a hard drive being plugged into your PC, so it’s vulnerable if something ever happens to your home or office.
Use CrashPlan to Back Up to a Hard Drive or Online
Users who are worried about having both types of backups should subscribe to CrashPlan. For $59.99 a year, users can back up their Windows 8 PC, store those files online for access through one of the company’s mobile apps and store a copy on a local hard drive. The services also offers different tiers so that families can back up as many as 10 different Windows 8 devices for $149.99 a year or as little as $13.99 a month.
You can try CrashPlan now free for the first month.
Back Up Your Data Automatically with Drobo 5D
For users and businesses who seriously want to protect their data there’s the Drobo Beyond. It’s literally a giant box that holds four separate hard drives. Users simply install the included software and plug in in the Drobo Beyond. It’ll automatically copy over a user’s files and then copy those same files to other hard drives inside of it if more than one hard drive is available. That means users not only have one copy, but also a backup copy if anything goes wrong with the Drobo Beyond’s first hard drive.
There are minuses. If something happens to your home, it’s likely that the Drobo Beyond could be damaged too, meaning you run the risk of losing any files stored on it. It also costs a whopping $499.99 at Amazon.
Regardless of which way you decide to, it’s a really good idea to create some sort of backup plan as soon as you can. Files that aren’t backed up could be lost at any moment, leaving you without the pictures of your family or at a loss for official documents you may need later on like during tax season.