Need Help With Backing Up PC


Jan 16, 2015
Newbie with backing up my PC. Never practiced it before, and just lost my first HDD and everything on it. Now I want to learn the best way of backing up. Basically I am on Windows so what is the best program to use? So with my budget the best I can do with my new HDDs is to get one 1TB WD Black, and one 500GB WD Green. Green drive is for backing up my PC only, however I don't know if when you back up your PC your files get compressed or not? If not then I will have to save money until I can get a 1TB WD Green. Also are Greens the best for just backing up? Anything better? Anything in general or tips I should know regarding backing up my PC? Hopefully I made sense and someone can help me out, Thanks in advance for the help! :)


Dec 17, 2012
ok. i'll give you a little primer on PC backups

their are 3 levels of backup.
1) In your system
2) locally outside of your system
3) cloud/off site

1) In your system storage is an additional hard drive. Typically it needs to be larger then the combined storage capacity of your other hard drives together in order to be "ideal". so if you have a 128GB SSD system drive, and a 1TB "data" drive, you'll want a 1.5+ TB "backup" drive. This will allow you to save both a system image and do a full backup of all of the contents of BOTH of your hard drives. Windows Backup and Restore or File History (in windows 8) both do a fine job for performing these backups, and generally speaking are pretty simple to setup. Some things to consider

-when dealing with backup drives over 2tb in size you'll run into an issue with saving system images in windows. It's a cluster size issue with NTFS file structure that M$ plans to fix in windows10. You will need to specially format that drive in order to do system image backups
-Creating your backup drive with a RAID1 or RAID5 setup will give you a LOT more security with local backups
-local backups like this require weekly monitoring to insure they're running properly. Its not uncommon for windows backup and restore or file history to not run successfully, especially if you catch a virus or your backup location gets full (it's supposed to over write older backups, but it doesn't always do this and can just flake out from time to time)

The downsides to on system storage -
-fire or theft = loss of all of your data

2) locally outside of your system - this would be using an external hard drive or NAS or file server to store your backups. A usb, nas or file server backup could be set up identically to the on system storage, only with windows backup and restore or file history saving the data to a network or USB location. You can also, with a file-server set it up so all of your personal documents are mirrored on the server regardless of backups. This would be a real time backup situation. some points to consider

-USB backup probably should be done with multiple disks, rotating weekly or daily depending on how vigilant you want to be. storing the other disks off site increases the overall safety of your backups, and adds to the appeal of this option, as you can protect yourself fairly thoroughly against fire and theft this way.
-file server and NAS backups tend to be easier to manage then USB backups, and have the added bonus of being in some sort of RAID (typically 5 or 6) for extra data security. Furthermore you do protect yourself against location specific disaster with this option, as a fire in your pc won't kill your backups. That said it doesn't provide perfect backup security

Downsides - this will probably be the most expensive in both initial cost, power bill and user time of all of the options, that said this is traditionally the most secure physical backup option you can go with.

3) Offsite storage - this is typically cloud based of some sort, though an off site server you own can function in a similar way. Off site storage overcomes most of the traditional problems of onsite storage (natural disaster resistant), though it is typically internet dependent, and less secure if you're one of those people who don't want the NSA reading your mail. Generally speaking Cloud based storage is most resilient to cryptography viruses like the recent cryptowall virus, something NAS, Server and USB backups can't claim. They also can backup your files in real-time. This also can be the most EXPENSIVE option of them all as typically a reputable cloud storage option can run you anywhere from $10/month up to $50 on the more expensive backup options. That said if all you're concerned about is less then 2gb of files, just text documents and pictures a smaller free service like google drive, or dropbox can give you the same type of real time protection any of the more robust cloud storage options. you just won't be able to backup everything to them.

-Downsides: privacy issues, internet connection dependent, can be the most expensive type of backup (over time)

Nuwan Fernando

Jul 26, 2013
Do you want to back up your programs as well or just the files? If only files, best way to just copy and paste it. If you need compression you can use 7zip to compress it as a single archive.
if your pc has an extra 5.25 bay you can buy a hot swap kit for it and use a wd red drive. the red drive when there on sale are made for servers and have a low failure rate. then pick up a back up software. it copy or clone your main drive onto the new backup drive. another way is using a usb ext hard drive if you do weekly or monthly back ups.

Justin Millard

Nov 22, 2014
Sorry to hear that your old hard drive died! If you know the right people there is technology out there that can help save most of the info off dead drives.

Green drives just mean the hard drive slows down a lot when not being used, then speeds back up when you ask it to do something again. Its green as in environmentally friendly because it doesn't use much power because it usually runs a bit slower.

When you back up your PC it doesn't automatically compress your files. You have to choose to do that yourself with a program.

I recommend you get a back up hard drive no smaller than the one in your computer.

You can buy backup hard drives that ca exist outside your computer and run over USB so you just plug them into USB when you want to back up something and drag the files into it.

You can also use a tool like 'File History' in the Windows control panel to save all your files to a back up drive.
Control Panel\System and Security\File History

If you don't want a USB hard drive you can just install a second hard drive inside your computer and then do the same thing.
You'll find that backup hard drive very easily in my computer or file explorer.
Installing a second hard drive inside the computer usually also means a much faster backing up process.

But really don't worry about it! Its not that hard and if you can't afford it right now you can feel perfectly safe waiting a couple of months to buy that second hard drive.

Good luck!
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