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How to set up automatic full backups on Windows 10

On Windows 10, you don’t need additional software to create automatic backups to protect your system installation and files, you can just use the built-in Backup and Restore feature.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  4. Click the Set up backup link on the top-right corner.
  5. Select the external drive you want to use to store the backup.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Under “What do you want to backup?” you can select the Let Windows Choose, but to make sure everything is backed up, select the Let me choose option.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Check all the items you want to protect, and because we’re creating a full backup, it’s recommended to select every item under “Data Files” and “Computer.” (If you have multiple drives, they will be listed under “Computer.”)
  10. Check the Include a system of drives: System Reserved, (C:) option.
  11. Click Next.
  12. On “Schedule,” click the Change schedule link.
  13. Use the available drop-down menus to select how often, what day, and what time, you want the backup to run. (It’s best to select a time that you know you won’t be actively using your device.)
  14. Click OK.
  15. Review your settings, and then click the Save settings and exit button.

Once you’ve completed the steps, the backup process will begin. At this time, you won’t be able to change any settings, but you can click the View Details button to see exactly what’s being backed up, and you’ll also see an option to stop the process as necessary.

After the process completes, under “Backup,” you’ll be able to see the drive that’s being used to store your files and the current size of the backup.

Other pieces of useful information include the date and time for the next and last backup, the contents included, and the schedule information.

Managing space

Using the Windows 10 backup system can cause an external drive to run out of space quickly, but there a few options you can use to optimize the space.

  1. While in the “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” settings, under “Backup,” click the Manage space link.
  2. Under “Data file backup,” click the View backups button.
  3. In this section, you’ll see a list of all files backups. If you need to free up store space, select oldest backup, and click the Delete button.
  4. Click Close.
  5. Under “System image,” click the Change settings button.
  6. By default Windows will manage the space to store system images, but you can always select the Keep only the latest system image and minimize space used by backup option to save space.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click Close.

Changing schedule

If you need to run a backup at a different time and day, you can always modify the schedule.

  1. While in the “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” settings, under “Schedule,” click the Change settings link.
  2. Click the Next button one every section until you arrive to the Review your backup settings page.
  3. Under “Schedule,” click the Change schedule link.
  4. Use the available drop-down menus to select how often, what day, and what time, you want the backup to run. (It’s best to select a time that you know you won’t be actively using your device.)
  5. Click OK.
  6. Review your settings, and then click the Save settings and exit button.

If you need to create a backup immediately, you don’t need to change the schedule. You can just click the Back up now button on the top-right corner.

Quick Tip: If for any reason you need to stop a backup from running, you can always click the Turn off schedule link from the left pane. Then when you’re ready, click the Turn on schedule link under “Schedule.”

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