How to back up your Windows 11 PC

Want to back up your entire PC in case something goes wrong? Or just keep 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 memory you accumulate. Whether you have photos, documents, videos, or favorite programs, it’s natural to want to back things up in case your PC crashes. Fortunately, Windows 11 offers three different ways to back up your system. You can save files of any kind with File History, copy folders to the cloud with OneDrive PC backup, or create an image of your PC. We see all three of you right here.

This guide will cover how to backup files and software. System settings are already saved to the cloud through your Microsoft Windows 11 account.

Back up your PC with OneDrive PC backup

As long as you’re comfortable uploading files to the cloud and have a OneDrive subscription (or free storage included as part of Microsoft 365), you can use the OneDrive Windows 11 app to store important folders on your PC. This includes everything you may have stored on your desktop, including Text, Music, Photos, and Videos. This backup is done automatically and is one of the easiest ways to back up your PC, but it cannot back up software.

  1. Install the OneDrive app if your PC doesn’t already have it installed.
  2. Open OneDrive settings by selecting the OneDrive cloud icon in the system tray.
  3. Select Help, then Settings.
  4. In the Sync and backup tab, select Manage backups.
  5. You can save the folders you see here. Just change any folder that says Unsaved and select Save. The folder will start saving.
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Once the backup is complete, the files will begin to sync to all Windows 11 PCs you may have in the same location. You can also access files from OneDrive online.

Back up your PC with History

Another way to keep your PC safe is File History. This service allows you to pick and choose which files and folders you want to save. This way, you will be using an external HDD or SSD connected to your PC. Note that this does not save backups.

  1. Connect the SSD or HDD to the backup destination.
  2. Search for and select Control Panel in the Start Menu.
  3. Switch to Category view under View by.
  4. Under System and Security, select Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  5. Under the sidebar, select History.
  6. Make sure your connected SSD or HDD is listed. Then select Turn On.

Your PC will start saving critical folders to this HDD or SSD. You can select Exclude Folders in the sidebar and click Add to avoid saving other folders. You can also choose Advanced Settings to choose how often your PC will save files or save versions stored on HDD or SSD. Since your PC is monitoring these folders for updates, the caveat is that your HDD or SSD must be connected to keep these backups up to date.

You can restore the files you added to History each one Windows PC. Just open the File History settings page and select Choose other backups to restore files from. You will be asked to select the files you want to restore.

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Back up your PC with a system image

Creating a system image is the most advanced way to protect your PC. This method creates a carbon copy of your PC and it is very well way to restore your PC. You will be keeping all your programs, updates, and files as they are on your PC. This does not allow you to restore individually files, but it’s useful when something goes wrong with your PC, and you need a copy of the way you were left after just reinstalling Windows on the same device before. You can create a system image to HDD or SSD, DVD, or network.

How to start a system backup

  1. Connect the SSD or HDD to the backup destination.
  2. Search for and select Control Panel in the Start Menu.
  3. When the Control Panel opens, switch to Group view under View by.
  4. Under System and Security, select Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  5. Select Create system image.
  6. Select the location where you want to save the system image, and select Next.
  7. You can select or select the drives that you do not want to be included in the backup. Then select Next.
  8. Then click Start Backup. The backup will take some time.

Once the backup is complete, you will be notified when it is ready.

How to restore from a backup

To restore from this backup, you must restart your PC.

  1. If your PC is open, connect the HDD or SSD with the system image in your PC.
  2. Head to Start > System > Recovery.
  3. Click Restart now under Advanced Startup.
  4. When your PC restarts, select Troubleshoot.
  5. Select Advanced Options > View additional features > System Image Recovery.
  6. Follow the steps on the screen, making sure to select Format and Repartition disks.
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If your PC won’t restart and you need to reinstall Windows, you can restore from this image. Here’s how:

  1. Start from the Windows 11 installer.
  2. Select Repair your computer.
  3. Go to Troubleshoot > System Image Recovery.
  4. You will be asked to select your HDD or SSD from the list. Press Next and follow your footsteps on the screen.

Those are the best ways to back up your Windows 11 supported laptop but be aware that Microsoft is working on a dedicated Windows Backup app for Windows 11. This app will allow you to check your current status, create new backups of your laptop, and backup settings, apps, and information. It is currently being tested in the Dev channel and Beta channels, which is why we have removed it from this list. This app will help you restore pins, settings, and desktop apps available in the Microsoft Store. We will do our best to keep this guide updated as soon as it starts.

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