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Computer Backup

Quick Tips:

How often should I backup my computer?

    • It is recommended to keep the automatically backup function enabled, which defaults to once an hour.
    • If you rather not have these programs automatically backup, you should be backing up at the very least once a week.


NOTE: See our Image Management, Search, & Use Best Practices Page for image backup information.


Which backup tool should I use?

The backup tools listed below are free, built-in software provided by Mac OS and Windows.

Also, there is a software program called Macrium Reflect, which allows you to clone or image your entire storage drive. Please see our KB Page Create a Disk Image with Macrium Reflect for information about this software.

macOS: Time Machine

  • Time Machine takes periodic snapshots of all your files and catalogs them on an external hard drive or a NAS on your network.
    • NOTE: Make sure your external hard drive is connected to your computer or laptop.
  • As the drive gets full, Time Machine will delete the oldest backups and replace them with newer versions.
  • For more information visit Time Machine Support.
  • To verify that Time Machine is periodically backing up your computer, open Time Machine Preferences to view the latest and upcoming backup statuses.


Windows 10 and Newer: File History
  • File History takes snapshots of versions of your files and stores them on an external hard drive and creates a library to restore previous.
  • Enables restoration of lost, damaged, or deleted files.
  • For more information visit File History Support.


How do I backup my computer?

Below are instructions on how to backup using the free, built-in software provided by Mac OS and Windows:

macOS Time Machine:
  • Connect your external hard drive
    • You might be asked if you want to use the drive to backup with Time Machine:
      • Select Encrypt Backup Disk (recommended) → Use as Backup Disk. An encrypted backup is accessible only to users with the password.
  • If Time Machine doesn't ask you to choose a backup disk when you connect the drive to your Mac:
    • System Preferences → Time Machine → ON
  • Select which disk you’d like to use as a Time Machine backup (hard drive or Capsule)
  • Check the Backup Automatically box if you wish to automatically backup your Mac to the device
    • Time Machine backups hourly, daily, and weekly as the drive gets full
Windows File History:
  • Settings → Update & Security → Backup
  • Connect your external hard drive
  • Select “+” in Settings next to “Add a drive”
  • Choose your external hard drive from the list
  • There is a slider to automatically backup your files
  • File History automatically backups all folders in your User folder
    • Select “More Options” under on/off slider then scroll down to “Back up these folders” to change these preferences


How often should I backup my computer?


How do I restore my Files?

Using the free, built-in software provided by Mac OS and Windows follow the instructions below:

macOS Time Machine:
  • Restoring Files
    • System Preferences → Time Machine → Check box Show Time Machine in menu bar
    • Click Time Machine icon in Menu bar → Select Enter Time Machine
    • Find the file or folder you’d like to retrieve and select Restore
    • Time Machine will copy that file back to its original location your hard drive
  • Restoring Hard Drive
    • Power on Mac and hold down the Command and R keys to enter the macOS Recovery Partition
      • Your mac should boot to a screen that says macOS Utilities
    • Select Restore from Time Machine Backup → Continue
    • Read info on Restore Your Systems page → Continue
    • Select your Time Machine Backup → Continue
    • Select the most recent backup of your hard disk → Continue
      • It will restore the backup and restart
Windows File History:
  1. You can recover backed up versions of file(s) or folders by right-clicking on it in File Explorer → select Properties → select Previous Versions
  2. You can also access the files through your external hard drive in File Explorer
    • Open File Explorer → open the folder that contains the item(s) you’d like to retrieve
    • Select the Home tab on the Ribbon atop your folder → then select the History button
    • Choose what you’d like to restore (i.e. folder, files, one file)
    • Move forward or backward in time with the arrows at the bottom of the window to find the version you’d like to restore
    • Click the Restore button to restore your desired version.
      • It will place the item (folder, file(s)) back into the place it used to live
      • If you have a newer file with the same name Windows will ask you to choose from the following options:
        • Replace the File in the Destination Folder - old file being restored will replace the file currently in it’s destination
        • Skip this File - will not restore this file/folder
        • Compare Info for Both Files - compare file sizes and dates before choosing, this option also will let you keep both. Windows will add a number at the end of the restored file.