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How to back up Windows 11

Your Windows 11 PC holds many precious memories and important files, so you might be wondering how you can protect it. This is becoming more important, as it is a dangerous time on the web with malware, spyware, and adware that can strike if you're not using the best antivirus. So, don't worry, it is quite a simple process to back up your Windows PC, and here, we'll show you how.




30 minutes

What You Need

  • A external drive (SSD, or HDD, or Flash Drive)

Note that our methods will involve using the built-in tools of Windows 11. We won't be using any paid software, and you won't need any extra downloads. Windows 11 will do a good job of backing up your computer hard drive as is.

how to back up windows 11 backup
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Windows 11 Backup and Restore

The easiest way to back up Windows 11 is with the Backup and Restore feature of the operating system. This feature is left over from Windows 7 and still works just fine in backing up individual files and folders. You can find it in the classic Control Panel. Here's how to get started.

Step 1: Open your Start Menu and Search for Control Panel

Step 2: In the Search Control Panel Box, search for Backup and Restore and click the top result for Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Step 3: On the page that opens up, click the Set up backup link. This will open a wizard. Follow the instructions on your screen. You'll be prompted to pick an external drive to backup to, and the specific folders and files you want to backup. All files on this external drive will be deleted. Wait for it to complete. Depending on the number of files you're backing up, it could take hours or mere minutes.

Step 4: Once the backup is complete, you can remove the backup drive from your computer. At any time, you can restore files from the drive by plugging it in, going back to the same settings page, and choosing the Select another backup to restore files from option.

how to back up windows 11 system image
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Windows 11 System Image

System Image Backup is a more in-depth solution to backing up your entire PC. With it, you can save an exact copy of your system and then restore it in the event your PC crashes or is buggy. This type of backup will include all your programs and apps in addition to your files.

Step 1: Open your Start Menu and Search for Control Panel

Step 2: In the Search Control Panel Box, search for Backup and Restore and click the top result for Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Step 3: Click the Create a System Image link in the sidebar.

Step 4: In the wizard that pops up, choose the On a hard disk option. Then, from there, click on your external disk drive or solid-state drive that you've plugged into your PC. You also can choose a DVD if you want, though a disk is the best option since it holds more storage.

Step 5: Click the Next button, and select all drives you want to include in the backup. Then, choose Start backup when you're ready to backup. This full backup could take a while, and, if you're using a traditional spinning hard drive as your backup method, it might take even longer.

Step 6: If you get a prompt about a system repair disk, click No. You won't need this for a system image backup if you already have a USB drive or CD with Windows installation files. Otherwise, click Yes.

Step 7: Sit back and wait

Step 8: Once the backup is complete, you can restore from this system image at any time from the Repair your computer option from the Windows 11 installer. Just choose the Troubleshoot option, and then choose system image recovery. From there, you can choose use the latest system image and follow the steps on your screen.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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