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2,862 Tutorials

How to back up a PC

Prepare your PC for a repair job or upgrade

PC Advisor takes an in-depth look at backups, a vital tool when preparing a laptop or desktop PC for a major repair job or upgrade. Here's how to back up your PC.

Online backups

A further option for ongoing backups is to use the cloud. This means that you back up your files over the web and store them on a remote server. Uploading happens over your broadband connection and is protected by the password and login credentials you set, plus encryption at the storage end.

You can usually log in and download the files you want on demand, which makes cloud or online storage ideal if you need to be able to access your work files (or music) from anywhere and everywhere.

Pricing scales for services such as MozyCarbonite and Humyo vary, but are typically £3 per month for the first 5GB and 50p to £1 per gigabyte thereafter. You'll often get a modest amount of online storage as a supplementary archive when you buy a USB hard drive, too.

Note that online storage can become expensive and isn't recommended for full system backups. It's perfect, however, for ad-hoc backups of items you value, such as photos and important documents.

Moving DATA to a new hard drive

When copying everything from an old hard drive to a new one, the process isn't as simple as dragging-and-dropping the files. This method will miss your boot sector, important parts of Windows and any hidden partitions – if your PC came with Windows installed, it's probably got a hidden partition that you'll need to copy over should you have to reinstall the operating system.

To ensure everything gets backed up, you can either create a disk image or clone the drive. Imaging backs up everything on your hard drive to a single, very large file. It's therefore usual to save the disk image to an external hard drive or DVD. Cloning directly copies the contents of one drive on to another.

Create a clone

Cloning is a better choice if you're moving everything from one drive to another. Two useful tools, EaseUs Disk Copy and ISO Recorder, will make the process as pain-free as possible.

When cloning a drive, your PC needs access to both hard drives simultaneously. If you have a desktop PC, you can install the new drive as a second internal drive (which will become the first one after you remove the older drive). If you have a laptop, or don't want to fiddle around with motherboard cables, try a USB 2.0-to-IDE/Sata drive adaptor to turn your internal drive into a temporary external one.

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