How To: Backup Your Computer

Taking a backup of your computer is as simple as 1-2-3. Read on to find out how easy it can be.

Remember that having good, current backups can protect your data from ransomware and other viruses, physical damage, equipment failure and accidental deletions.

What you’ll need:

  1. A place to store your backups. This can be a USB or NAS storage device OR a cloud storage location. For this example we’ll be backing up to a USB drive.
  2. Backup software – for this How-To we’ll be using Duplicati. Duplicati is free and open source, it has wide platform adoption and is simple and easy to use!
  3. A schedule that makes sense. We want the computer to be on during the backup, but mostly idle. Lunch breaks, evenings and mornings are good choices.

Lets get started

Obtain Duplicati from here and install the program on your computer.

When you are ready to get started creating your first backup, launch Duplicati.

Click on the Left side menu and choose “Add Backup”

duplicati set up new backup: step 1
Configure a New Backup

Choose Configure a new backup and click Next.

On the next screen, type in a descriptive name for the backup. This can be anything you want. Optionally include a description of the backup to indicate what it’s for.

duplicati set up new backup: step 2
Backup Name and Encryption

Ensure that you keep encryption set as AES-256, and make up a strong passphrase for that. Ensure that you keep this passphrase safe, because if you loose it, your backup will be locked and no one will be able to restore it. Click next when done.

Backup Destination

Now it’s time to choose where to place your backups. In this example we’ll be placing them locally on a USB thumb drive, so we choose “Local Folder or Drive” from the drop down. You can grab USB thumb drives quite cheaply from sites like amazon or if you prefer your local box store or computer store. If your backup location requires authentication, you can enter those credentials here.

Backup Selections

Pick the files you wish to backup regularly. The software defaults to the “User Data” folder area (C:\Users\<currentuser>) but you can pick any folder location on your computer, and multiple folder locations. When done, click next.

Backup Schedule

Choose your backup schedule. This is entirely up to you, but I suggest for a regular desktop computer use a weekly backup schedule. But it’s really about how much data you could tolerate loosing in the event you had a disaster/ransomware issue. Remember, for a local USB backup you’ll need to remember to have the USB backup drive attached before the scheduled backup occurs.

Backup Retention and Chunk Size

On this screen, you get to pick your backup retention and size of each backup chunk. Smaller volume (chunk) size means more files, but potentially less retrying (for network backup locations) than larger files. For local backups you can make these files big to reduce the number of files stored on your USB drive. I suggest a number between 100MB and 500MB here.

For retention, on a desktop computer backing up every day, keeping 7 backups means you can go back in time up to 1 week. For a computer backing up once per week, keeping 7 backups means you can go back 7 weeks (but only to one point in time for each of those weeks). You’ll want to be conservative to not risk running out of space, but also you’ll want to keep enough to go back a reasonable amount. On daily backups I’ll choose 28+ so I can go back 1 month, on weekly I’ll choose 5 so I can go back 1 month.

Backup Status

When you are done setting up the backup, go ahead and run it. Your backup should complete without problems. If you have warnings or errors, fix those and run it again.

Duplicati Backup Files

When the backup is finished, you’ll notice a collection of files that look like the picture above on your USB drive. This is normal.

Wrap up

Fantastic you’ve configured your first Duplicati local backup. Be sure to remove the USB drive when the backup is completed, and insert it before the next backup is to be run. It’s important to remove the drive when you are done backing up because it protects your backup from ransomware. It would be a very bad day if the backup you have is destroyed by ransomware!

Check out our How-To on how to set up email notifications for your backup job.

Check out more of our How-To’s for additional great tips like this one.

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