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 Time Capsule you’ve hooked up to your network.
    • Time Capsule is a wireless router/hard drive-in-one device from Apple that you can purchase.
    • 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 8 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.


Windows 7 and Older: Backup and Restore
  • Backup and Restore is found on older versions of Windows, and is the previous software Microsoft used to backup user files. If you have an older Windows software, you can use this program to backup your files and restore your computer from previous backups.
  • For more information visit Backup and Restore 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 (if you don’t have Time Capsule)
    • 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.