You should always create a PC backup in Windows 11/10 or macOS to safeguard your files. MiniTool will show you how to backup PCs to an external hard drive/a cloud service. Besides, some information on how to back up an iPhone/Android phone to a PC is also introduced.

PC Backup: A Preventive Measure

As part of the recovery plan, a full backup of a PC should be your top priority because it can be the best strategy against update issues, malicious software & virus attacks, system failures, software bugs & issues, etc. These factors can cause your files to lose or damage the operating system.

If you don’t create a full PC backup, you will be at risk of losing documents, photos, music files, videos and other files, Windows configurations, program data, etc. What’s more, without a system backup, the PC may have a long time of downtime.

If you have a habit of backing up your PC, you can easily get lost files back or restore the system to an earlier state using the created backups in case of computer accidents.

So, how can you back up your PC? Then, we will offer a full guide on how to back up files on PCs. Also, system image backup is introduced.

How to Back up Computer? Here Is a Guide for Windows and Mac!
How to Back up Computer? Here Is a Guide for Windows and Mac!

Backing up your computer is an important step that you should take if you don't want to lose essential data. This post tells you how to back up a computer.

Read More

Something to Know about PC Backup

Speaking of PC backup, you should take Windows backup and Mac backup into account. Besides, you should also consider which backup options to use – local backup (to an external hard drive/USB drive) or cloud backup.

Usually, both of them are recommended. This conforms to the 3-2-1 backup strategy that can protect your PC in a reliable way. Next, we will show you how to backup a PC to an external drive or a cloud service platform in Windows 11/10 or macOS.

How to Backup PC to External Hard Drive in Windows 11/10

In Windows 11/10, you can try multiple tools to create backups – use a third-party backup solution to backup files on your PC or seek help from a Windows built-in tool.

Run MiniTool ShadowMaker to Back up Files on PC

On the market, you can find many third-party backup software for PCs and we advise MiniTool ShadowMaker. As an all-around PC backup software, it is designed for Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 to offer an excellent backup & recovery solution.  

With it, you can backup files with ease and automatically backup data at the time point you have configured. Also, you are allowed to only back up changed data – we call it incremental or differential backup. Besides file backup, MiniTool ShadowMaker supports backing up disks, partitions, and the Windows system, cloning HDD to SSD, and syncing files/folders.

To back up PC, now download this free backup program and install it on Windows 11/10 for a trial.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

See the guide on how to backup PC to external hard drive:

Step 1: Connect an external hard drive to your Windows PC.

Step 2: Double-click on MiniTool ShadowMaker and tap on Keep Trial after finishing loading.

Step 3: In the left pane, click on Backup. Then, you see system partitions are selected by default as the backup source. If you only want to create a system image, you only need to go to DESTINATION to choose an external drive. Then, start the system backup.

If you want to back up files on your PC, choose files that you want to protect – go to SOURCE > Folders and Files, check the items you want to back up, and click OK. Then, choose an external drive as the storage device.

Step 4: Finally, start the file backup by clicking Back Up Now.

MiniTool ShadowMaker file backup
You may wonder how to automatically back up PC data using MiniTool ShadowMaker. In terms of scheduled backup, click Manage from the left side, tap on three dots next to the file backup task to select Edit Schedule, enable this feature, and configure a time point.
Edit Schedule

Once done, you had better create a bootable USB drive so that you can restore your PC data or system in case of unbootable Windows. To do this thing, tap on Tools > Media Builder, connect a USB drive to your computer, choose it, and start creating the bootable drive.

Besides, if you want to back up the entire disk, refer to our previous post – How to Backup Hard Drive (Internal/External) to Another Disk.

Use Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

In Windows 11/10, the built-in backup tool – Backup and Restore (Windows 7) allows you to create a PC backup and save it to an external hard drive. Using this tool, you can easily create a system image and back up files.

How to backup PC to external hard drive with this program:

Step 1: Open Control Panel via the search bar and then see all the items by Large icons.

Step 2: Find Backup and Restore (Windows 7) and click it to open this tool.

Backup and Restore

Step 3: To back up your system, tap on Create a system image. Then, choose a path to save the backup and we recommend using an external hard drive. Next, decide which drives to include in the backup (by default, system partitions are selected), confirm the backup settings, and click Start backup.

Some want to back up the system to a USB drive but this tool cannot allow you to do this thing – it shows you an error saying “the drive is not a valid backup location”.

Step 4: To back up files on your PC to an external drive, click Set up backup on the right side. Then, choose an external drive to save your backup, check Let me choose, select the folders you want to back up, and tap on Save settings and run backup.


When comparing them, you can see the third-party backup tool has limited features, and backup errors & issues often appear. We strongly recommend using MiniTool ShadowMaker to backup your PC via simple clicks since it supports backup, sync, and clone and brings additional powerful features, keeping the PC safe in a reliable and flexible way.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Windows 11/10 Backups Not Working? Top Solutions Here to Fix!
Windows 11/10 Backups Not Working? Top Solutions Here to Fix!

Windows 10 Backup not working? Two cases are introduced here: Backup and Restore (Windows 7) not working, Windows 10 File History not working.

Read More

How to Create a PC Backup and Save to Cloud

As stated above, backing up a PC to a cloud service platform is also a good way to protect your data besides making a PC backup to an external hard drive. This is because your external hard drive also has a lifespan and once it is damaged due to some reasons, files are also risky.

Speaking of cloud backup, the common and reputable cloud services are Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. Each of them offers limited storage space, for example, OneDrive – 5GB, Google Drive – 15GB, and Dropbox – 2GB. To gain more space to save your files, you are required to subscribe to the service.

Next, we will show you how to make a PC backup using Google Drive (take an example):

Step 1: Visit in a web browser and tap on Download Drive for desktop to get the GoogleDriveSetup.exe file. Then, double-click on this download file to install Google Drive Desktop.

Step 2: Launch Google Drive and sign in to it with your Google account.

Step 3: If you first use this service, set up it first. You need to choose folders to sync from your computer to Drive in the Google Drive window:

  1. Click Add folder, access File Explorer, and select a folder that you need to back up. If you need to sync multiple folders, repeat this step.
  2. Check the boxes of all the folders and click Next.
sync with Google Drive

Step 4: You are required to choose folders to back up to Google Photos. Also, click Add folder to choose folders and check these items, then click Next.

Step 5: Confirm the folders you have selected to sync to Drive and back up to Photos, and then they will start to sync once setup is complete.

confirm folders to sync

Step 6: Once done, your files will show up in File Explorer without taking up hard drive space.

If you need to add additional folders to back up after the first use, click the icon of Google Drive in the system tray of Taskbar to open a small window. Then, you can tap on the gear icon at the top-right corner to choose Preferences to open a new window.

Under the My Computer tab, click Add folder. Then, you see two Options and choose one, then click Save.

  • Sync with Google Drive: Upload all folders and files including videos and photos. After removing or editing files, those changes will be automatically synced.
  • Back up to Google Photos: Only upload pictures and videos. If you remove files, the changes won’t automatically sync.
sync with Google Drive option
In addition to backing up your PC to Google Drive using its desktop app, you can visit the official website and upload files & folders for PC backup. This post - How to Backup Windows 10 to Google Drive on Windows 10/11 may help you.

Besides Google Drive, you can backup a PC to OneDrive or Dropbox. To know how to do this thing, refer to related posts:

How to Sync Dropbox to File Explorer in Win11/10 to Backup Data
How to Sync Dropbox to File Explorer in Win11/10 to Backup Data

This post shows you how to sync Dropbox to File Explorer on your Windows 11/10 PC for data backup. Let’s see some instructions.

Read More

How to Backup PC Running macOS

If you use a Mac, how can you back up it to an external hard drive or the cloud? Find the information below.

Backup Mac to External Hard Drive

In a Mac, the built-in backup software – Time Machine is designed to back up files like documents, apps, music, photos, and email to a USB drive or an external hard drive. Just head to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Time Machine, choose an external disk, check Back Up Automatically, and start the PC backup.

5 Ways: How To Backup Your Mac To An External Hard Drive
5 Ways: How To Backup Your Mac To An External Hard Drive

Some users want to know how to backup Mac to external hard drive since the backup often takes much space and the internal drive is almost full.

Read More

Backup Mac to Cloud

In addition to local backup, you can also back up your Mac data to the cloud like iCloud or Dropbox, which is easy to operate. In our previous tutorials, you can find some details and instructions:

How to Backup iPhone/Android Phone to PC

If you want to backup iPhone to PC(s) or backup Android phone to PC(s), they are available. You can find several ways for the backup tasks – sync files to a cloud platform and access them on a PC to download, use a cable to connect the phone to a computer and run iTunes on a PC (for iPhone).

Refer to these posts:

Bottom Line

PC backup is essential for your Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 computer or Mac. You can backup it to an external hard drive or cloud to have two backup copies to prevent data loss in a good way. Also, backing up a mobile phone to a PC is an all-right option to protect your phone data. This tutorial introduces a detailed step-by-step guide on how to back up PC/mobile phone to a PC. Take action!

PC Backup FAQ

How do I backup my whole computer?
MiniTool ShadowMaker can help you a lot in backing up your computer and you can run it, choose the entire hard drive as the backup source, select an external hard drive, and start the full backup.
What are the best practices for PC backup?
The 3-2-1 backup strategy is highly recommended to keep data safe since you have 3 different copies of your data - 2 saved on different storage types and 1 copy offsite.
  • linkedin
  • reddit