How to Back Up Your Windows 11 PC in 15 Minutes or Less
How to Back Up Your Windows 11 PC | Want to keep a full copy of your PC in case something goes wrong? Or just back up your files? It’s made easy with Windows 11’s system tools.
The more you use your Windows 11 PC, the more important files and memories you gather. Whether you have photos, documents, videos, or even favorite apps, it’s natural to want to back things up in the event something goes wrong with your PC. Thankfully, Windows 11 offers three different ways to back up your system. You can back up individual files with File History, copy folders to the cloud with OneDrive PC folder backup, or create a system image of your PC. We have a look at all three for you right here.
This guide will cover backing up files and apps. System settings are already backed up to the cloud through your Microsoft account on Windows 11.
Backup your PC with OneDrive PC folder backup
As long as you’re comfortable uploading files to the cloud and have a paid OneDrive subscription (or free storage space included as part of Microsoft 365), you can use OneDrive on Windows 11 to back up your PC’s important folders. can use the app. These include everything you might have stored in the standard Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders. This backup happens automatically and is one of the simplest ways to back up your PC, but it won’t back up applications.
- Install the OneDrive app if your PC doesn’t already have it pre-installed.
- Open the OneDrive settings app by selecting the OneDrive cloud icon in the system tray.
- Select Help, then Settings.
- In the Sync and back up tab, select Manage Back up.
- You can back up the folders you see here. Just toggle any folder that says Not backed up and select Save. The folder will start backing up.
Once the backup is complete, files will begin to sync to all Windows 11 PCs you might own in the same locations. You also can access the files from OneDrive on the web.
Backup your PC with File History
Another way to back up your PC is through File History. This function lets you pick and choose the individual files and folders you want to back up. In this option, you will use an external HDD or SSD connected to your PC. Note that this does not back up applications.
- Connect the SSD or HDD where you want to store the backup.
- Search for and select Control Panel in the Start Menu.
- Switch it to Category view under View by.
- Under System and Security, choose Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
- At the bottom of the sidebar, choose File History.
- Make sure your connected SSD or HDD is on the list. And then choose Turn on.
Your PC will start backing up important folders to this HDD or SSD. You can select Exclude folders in the sidebar and click Add to avoid backing up certain folders. You can also choose advanced settings to choose how often your PC will save copies of files or keep saved versions on the HDD or SSD. Since your PC will monitor these folders for changes, the caveat with this is that your HDD or SSD will need to be connected to keep these backups fresh.
You can restore files added to File History to any Windows PC. Simply open the File History settings page and select Select another backup to restore the files. You will be asked to select the files you want to restore.
Backup your PC with a system image
Creating a system image is the most advanced way to back up your PC. This method creates a carbon copy of your PC and is the best way to backup your PC. You’ll back up all your apps, settings, and files exactly as they are on your PC. This option doesn’t allow you to restore individual files, but it’s helpful if something goes horribly wrong with your PC, and you need to reinstall Windows on the same hardware as before. A copy of how it was left is required. You can create a system image on an HDD or SSD, DVD, or network location.
How to start the system image backup
- Connect the SSD or HDD where you want to store your backup.
- Find and select Control Panel in the Start menu.
- Once Control Panel opens, switch it to Category view under View by.
- Under System and Security, select Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
- Select Create a system image.
- Select the location where you want to save the system image, and then select Next.
- You can select or deselect drives you don’t want to include in the backup. Then select Next.
- Then click Start Backup. Backup will take some time.
Once the backup is complete, you will be notified when it is ready.
How to restore from a system image backup
To restore from this backup, you’re going to have to reboot your PC.
- If your PC is bootable, plug the HDD or SSD with the system image into your PC.
- Head to Start > System > Recovery.
- Click Restart now under Advanced Startup.
- Once your PC reboots, choose Troubleshoot.
- Choose Advanced options > See more recovery options > System Image Recovery.
- Follow the steps on the screen, making sure you choose Format and Repartition disks.
In the event your PC is not bootable and you have to reinstall Windows, you can restore from this image. Here’s how:
- Boot from the Windows 11 installer.
- Choose Repair your computer.
- Go to Troubleshoot > System Image Recovery.
- You’ll be prompted to pick your HDD or SSD from a list. Press Next and follow the steps on your screen.
These are the best ways to back up your Windows 11 laptop, but do note that Microsoft is currently working on a dedicated Windows Backup app for Windows 11. This app will let you view your current backup status, create a new backup of your laptop. and backup settings, apps, and credentials. It is currently in testing in the dev channel and beta channels which is why we have excluded it from this list. The app will help you restore app pins, settings, and desktop apps available in the Microsoft Store. We’ll do our best to keep this guide updated once it’s launched.
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