How to back up your Windows computer to a network hard drive

The Windows 7 Backup utility is great--unless you want to use a networked hard drive for storage. If so, you need to either upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate or find another answer. SyncBack is a free, powerful backup tool that will connect you to any networked hard drive.

Networked hard drives are a great storage solution for many people.

They're easy to access from many computers, they're at less risk of damage from dropping or other accidents, and they can hold much more data than our computers could handle on their own. Windows 7 users who want to use these great tools for backup need to look for a third-party solution, as Microsoft demands an upgrade to Ultimate before unlocking network storage in its Backup utility. Here's how to use SyncBack to get the job done.

  • Download and install SyncBack.

  • Run it and agree to create a profile. Backup is a straightforward, one-way storage solution that can be easily restored in the future, while Synchronisation regularly checks to make sure directories have the same contents. Go with Backup for most uses.

Step 2: Create profile.
Step 2: Create profile. Screenshot by Rob Lightner

  • Now you need to select a source and a destination. The simplest way to go about it is to select your main hard drive as the source, but of course this will be a massive undertaking, so make sure you can leave your computer running and networked for many hours while it does its work. If you want to be more selective, you could just back up the ProgramData and Users folders from your main hard drive. (If you use multiple source folders, you will need to set them up as separate backup jobs.)

Step 3: Select Source.
Step 3: Select source. Screenshot by Rob Lightner

  • Select your destination. Your network hard drives should show up under your local drives when you open Computer. You can tab over to the more advanced options if you want to even get more selective, but for most users, you're good to go.

  • SyncBack then asks if you want to perform a simulated run. You should do this if you want to confirm that you're backing up the right files and folders, but you probably don't need to do this.

  • Now you need to do your first backup and schedule future backups. I like to do the schedule first so I don't forget. Just click the Schedule button in the bottom center of the window, then click "Set password&" as Windows requires a password for this. Click the Schedule tab and set up a schedule that works for you. I use weekly, but you may want something different. Click OK and your schedule is set.

Step 6: Set up schedule.
Step 6: Set up schedule. Screenshot by Rob Lightner

  • Now click Run at the bottom of the SyncBack window and your first backup will start. Make sure you leave your computer on and awake throughout the process. 

That's it! You may want to add folders as new jobs in the future, and it's easy to do so from the main SyncBack window. You can also change your schedule and tinker with other settings if you like.

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Tech Culture
About the author

    Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.

     

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