There are many different backup methods, software solutions, and doctrines. Generally all agree that you should keep at least three copies of your important files in three different places. Many will suggest you keep weekly copies of your files, in case of accidental deletion or corruption so that older versions can be retrieved if needed.
If you are storing your files on iCloud, Onedrive, or Dropbox (or a similar service), you’re already backing up to one location.
For the best recovery option, you’ll also want a full system backup, so that you can go back to your computer as it was on the date the backup was made to retrieve your files, or recovery your system in full in case of infection or disaster.
Below are some recommendations for creating such a backup. For best results, hire tech support to manage and monitor your backups for you. This gives you the best insurance against losing all of your information, financials, photos, and memories to virusus, scammers, or even just a power surge which damages your computer.
To make a full system backup, you’ll need an external USB hard drive at least as large as the hard drive on your computer. Preferably, it’ll be 2x or 3x the size so that multiple versions of backups can be kept on the same drive.
macOS and Time Machine
- Apple includes one of the best backup solutions built right into their macOS operating system which ships with every mac.
- Apple being Apple, they provide straight-forward instructions for enable it, linked below.
- Instructions: Back up your Mac with Time Machine
Windows 10 and Macrium Reflect
- Link: Macrium Reflect Home Edition
- Summary from the source: The complete backup solution for personal use. Protect documents, data and operating systems using advanced disk imaging technology. Includes Macrium viBoot for instant Hyper-V virtualization and Macrium Image Guardian.
- Macrium does have a free version, but the home version adds automatic, incremental snapshots to an external drive. It’s worth the price of admission just to have this feature in Windows 10. It may save you from system failure or ransomware, which would result in the loss of all of your files and significant downtime.
- Link: Get started with the Macrium Reflect User Guide
- Windows 10 does include backup tools as part of it’s File History feature, however it is clunky, and I have seen it completely skip files when backing up, without alerting the user that there was an issue. While it is a useful feature in corporate environments when used in conjunction with Windows Server and online backups, I prefer not to use it for personal use or use in small deployments.