How to Backup Computer to External Hard Drive

How to Backup Computer to External Hard Drive

Looking to backup your computer to an external hard drive? You’re in the right place. There are loads of reasons why you might want to backup your own computer files on an external drive, and we’re going to look at them. Whether you’re new to computing or not, backing up can be important for your security, and it’s not has hard to do as you might think. So if you want to know how to backup computer to external hard drive, keep reading.

Why would you need to backup a computer to an external hard drive?

There are a few different reasons you might want to backup your computer. While these might range from urgent to simply useful—you should take your time to educate yourself on the issues surrounding computer backups and why one might be the right choice for you. The reality is, you should be regularly backing up your files to keep them safe and secure. Let’s have a look at why you might need to backup your hard drive in a bit more detail:

To make updates safely

When you update software, drivers or especially your operating system, things can go wrong. While upgrades have improved a lot, you still want to make sure you’ve got all your important files securely stored in case you have to completely wipe your main hard disk and start again.

Installing things like Windows updates should work normally, but they don’t always. It’s even riskier when you try and update to a completely new operating system. While there are ways to partition files and try and do an upgrade without wiping a disk, these are complicated and don’t always work.

So if you’re trying to upgrade or update your operating system, you’ll probably have to install it on a newly wiped hard disk. That means you need to backup all your important files externally before you continue. You don’t want to lose them. Then you’ll be free to transfer your old files over to your new system without too many problems.

To install new hardware safely

Just like updates can sometimes break a computer, so can new hardware. For extra peace of mind, try backing up your files externally beforehand.

To backup data in a separate location for security

Aside from securing your data in case upgrading fails, you might still want to keep regular backups for security purposes. When you backup to a hard drive externally, you can keep it wherever you want, meaning it will be safe from hackers and other online attacks, or also if you lose your laptop. Having extra backups is normally a good idea no matter what you use your computer for. Even if nothing goes wrong, you’ll still have extra peace of mind.

Before a reformat

Sometimes old computers can become slow, and the only way to speed things up is with a reformat. If you do this, you’ll want to backup your files beforehand, and that’s another good reason to keep regular backups.

How to backup computer on external hard drive

Now you’ve seen why you might want to backup your computer on an external hard drive, you need to know how to do it. Let’s have a look at a few simple steps.

Make sure you’ve got the right drive for your machine

Buying the right hardware can be complicated. While things have got easier, you still want to make sure you get a drive that’s compatible with your original computer. Is it a SSD drive, and does your computer support one if it is? These can be faster and more reliable, but they aren’t the only option. You might have to rely on traditional hard drives.

One other point to make here is that if you don’t have a huge number of files to backup, you could consider an alternative backup option. Burning a DVD or loading the files onto a USB stick might be more straightforward, but these will have space limitations. You could also consider the cloud, which will store your files away from your computer on the internet, so you can access them from anywhere. The cloud has made backups much more easy, but you might want your own physical copy to store somewhere safely yourself, and in case you don’t have internet access. That’s why hard drive backups are still popular.

Make sure you’ve got the right connections

Plugging your drive into your computer is the next step. It’s a reasonably easy one, but you’ll need the right cables. These days, you can use simple USB connectivity for many drives, but older ones might require a wire into the motherboard. When you’ve plugged your drive in, you should be alerted to its location on your computer. You might have to install driver software before your computer will recognise it. These drivers might come on a DVD or can be found online.

Consider using software

While you can simply open your drive folder and transfer files across very easily, you might want to consider backup software to look after the process for you. This software can help compress files and perform regular updates to keep your files backed up more often. You can take an image of your entire drive rather than loading files across individually if you want.

Don’t unplug it while updating

This is important! If you unplug your external drive while transferring files, it could corrupt them or cause problems for your computer. Transferring can take a while, especially with older drives and computers, but you’ll need to be patient.

How to reformat a hard drive

Once you’ve backed everything up, you can now reformat. Reformatting is simple. On Windows, simply select the reformat option on your hard drive properties by right clicking on it. If you want to know how to reformat a hard drive for a Mac or other system, it’s just as easy. Simply find the right option in your drive properties and select it. Make sure you’ve backed everything up first!