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How to Backup Computer to External Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7


Summary: Do you save many important files on your hard drive in the computer? Is there a backup for your computer? This page will cover some steps on how to backup computer in Windows 10/8/7 to external hard drive with MiniTool ShadowMaker so that you can get data back in case your computer gets destroyed, stolen or fails to boot.

Do You Need to Backup?

Is it necessary to backup your computer? It is believed that many of you probably ask this question. The answer is "Yes". Why? In one word, it is for data protection.

As is well known, the computer is widely used to cope with some things in work and life. Then many types of files can be stored on your computer, including documents, financial information, movies, pictures, games, Internet bookmarks and so forth. Nevertheless, some computer accidents happen from time to time, such as system failure or corruption, virus attack, computer damage, hard drive damage and more. And then some troubles happen to you, for instance, your computer fails to boot or some important information on the computer hard drive is lost.

Here is a typical case: more than 300,000 systems suffer from the most severe malware attack that is called WannaCry. If you have a backup beforehand, you can protect yourself from ransomware and data loss won't happen in Windows 10/8/7.

When is the last time you backed up all the vital important pictures, movies, music files, documents and more? Never? Last year? Last month? If you don't create a backup, just do it now. You probably ask: how do I back up my computer? In the following, we will show you some information about it.

How to Backup Computer with MiniTool ShadowMaker

If you don't want to lose any of your valuable data or encounter unbootable system, backing up your computer is an important step you should take. How to do this work? More on this later.

①Select Professional Backup Software

Before starting the computer backup, you need to prepare a piece of professional computer backup software. When you search it on the internet, you see many searching results showing various backup tools. Which one is the best? Here MiniTool ShadowMaker is such one backup and restore tool since it supports backing up the system, partition, and disk in your Windows 10/8/7. Just free download it and begin to backup your computer.

Perhaps you ask us what advantages that MiniTool ShadowMaker owns. As mentioned above, various backup types are provided to you, such as system backup, partition backup, and disk backup. What's more, it allows you to make a backup for the local computer and remotely control all the computers in one same LAN. Incremental backup and differential backup can also be performed. After accidents occur, MiniTool ShadowMaker is able to restore your computer to the correct status. Therefore, we strongly recommend this tool to you.

②What Need to Be Backed up?

As for this question, the choice is ultimately yours, but we recommend you to protect anything which is important for you, for example, work documents, movies, music files, applications and so on. Suppose that these files are saved on each partition of the hard drive, it is especially convenient to make a complete backup for your laptop or desktop. Generally speaking, to backup hard drive Windows is so far the fastest and most effective method to restore your operating system, data, and applications in case of hard drive failure, system corruption, and other accidents.

In addition, you can only backup the system so as to restore your computer to the normal state when system failure happens.

③Backup Computer to External Hard Drive

Now deciding backup source, it is your turn to get the ways about how to backup computer in Windows 10/8/7 with MiniTool ShadowMaker. Two backup types will be shown here: system backup and disk backup.

create Create a System Image Backup

What is system image? In brief, it refers to an exact copy of the drives which are required for Windows to run. All system settings, files, and programs are included into the image file. If your computer or hard disk ever stops working, the system image can be used to restore the contents of your computer. In consequence, a system backup for your computer is crucial. How do you back up your operating system? Just use the "Backup" feature of MiniTool ShadowMaker now.

Step 1: If you have downloaded MiniTool ShadowMaker, please open it. Then you can decide to choose local backup or remote backup. Here let's take local backup as an instance.

local backup

Step 2: Then this computer backup software can enter "Home" page. If there is no backup yet, just click "SET UP BACKUP" button to go to "Backup" tab for data protection.


Step 3: Then you see MiniTool ShadowMaker shows you source section and destination section.

tip As to system backup, from the figure, you know all the system related partitions required for Windows to run are chosen by default. You should note that by default, MiniTool ShadowMaker always selects the system drives in the current operating system.

If you have respectively installed the operating system on two different hard disks, this backup software for Windows 10/8/7 also acquiescently backs up the OS which is running. If you want to create a system backup image for another OS, please click "Source" section to choose the correct disk.

choose backup source

When clicking the destination section, you will see two kinds of storage methods. Where should you back up your computer? For local backup, the external hard drive, USB flash drive and thumb drive are often used. If the data set is small, a USB or thumb drive is enough. Here we advise you to choose an external hard drive as the location for image storage, which is more convenient to restore your computer to the previous state.

backup computer to external hard drive

Step 4: After selecting the source disk partition and destination disk, just click "Back up Now" to perform the system backup operation. If many system files are on the system partition, the backup will take a few minutes.

backup now

When searching "how to backup computer" in Google, you can find someone asks this question: How to backup laptop to external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7? As a matter of fact, it is still very easy. Just connect the external hard drive to your laptop via USB cable, and then use MiniTool ShadowMaker to create a system image backup for Windows. Just do the work following the above steps.

After finishing the system backup, you can use the image backup file to restore your computer to its previous status in the event of system damage. How do you do system restore on Windows 10/8/7? This procedure is referred to disaster recovery, therefore, it requires a bootable disc or flash drive which is created by the professional backup and recovery software – MiniTool ShadowMaker. Just use "Media Builder" to create MiniTool ShadowMaker Bootable Edition to perform the recovery operation. For more information, refer to this post How Can You Make System Image Recovery in Windows 10.

make Make a Disk Backup

In addition to system backup, you can also make a complete disk backup for your PC. How to backup computer hard disk? Actually, it is still simple. Follow the guide as shown below:

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker to the interface where choose local backup or remote backup. Click "Connect" to next page.

Step 2: Select the source disk and check all its partitions you want to back up. Click "Finish" to go back to "Backup" tab.

select all partitions

Then you need to choose the storage location for the disk backup image. Also, to backup computer to external hard drive is recommended.

Tip: You had better not choose the partition on the source disk to store the image.

Step 3: After finishing the selection of source disk and destination drive, you can start this disk backup task by hitting "Back up Now" button.

schedule backup

tip "Schedule" feature is designed to make a backup on a regular basis. Schedule backup refers to incremental backup by default. With this feature, MiniTool ShadowMaker only helps to back up the newly added or changed data in your Windows 10/8/7. So, this way won't take much disk storage space. Please set the backup time point for schedule backup depending on your needs.

Now we have shown you how to backup your computer with MiniTool ShadowMaker in two aspects: system backup and disk backup. If you want to try this professional backup software for your computer, free download it right now on Windows 10/8/7.

How to Backup Computer with Windows Backup and Restore

In addition to using the third-party software, someone probably considers adopting Windows snap-in backup tool. In Windows 10, it is called Backup and Restore (Windows 7). In Windows 8, it is File History. In Windows 7, it is Backup and Restore. This tool mainly enables you to create a system image backup. Look at the details:

1. Here take Windows 10 as an example. Right click on "Start" button to go to Control Panel.
2. Select "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)" from "System and Security" section. Then start to back up your computer OS by hitting "Create a system image".

windows backup

3. Next, please decide where you want to save the backup. Here Windows built-in backup tool allows you to back up the system to a hard disk, one DVD or a network location. Usually, we advise you to choose an external hard drive.

4. Then you see system partition is checked by default. In order to backup hard drive Windows, please check all partitions of the target disk. Here H drive is the partition of your external hard drive, so you needn't check it.

clone disk

5. Then you will enter the interface where you can confirm your backup setting. Click "Start backup" button to perform the backup for your computer.

By means of Windows Backup and Restore (Windows 7), the backup will cost much time and take large disk space. Compared to MiniTool ShadowMaker, it has some demerits. Want to learn the difference between these two tools? Turn to the post How Can You Create a Windows 10 Image Backup.

Backup Hard Drive Windows by Disk Cloning

In the above content, the backup method of your computer is to make an image. Besides, you can back up your hard drive in Windows 10/8/7 by disk cloning. By this way, the data stored on the destination disk is identical to the data on the original hard drive. From the desktop files to the device drivers, from the operating system to hidden directory files, everything is copied completely and identically. By this way, you can use the destination disk as the bootable disk when the system fails to run.

In order to do disk cloning for disk backup, you can still use MiniTool ShadowMaker which provides you with "Clone Disk" feature in "Tools" tab. After selecting the source disk you want to clone and the target disk for the disk copy, you can start to clone your hard drive for disk backup. This post How to Clone a Hard Drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7 shows you some details about disk cloning.

select all partitions


Now you know how to backup computer in Windows 10/8/7. Then, which one do you prefer? Using MiniTool ShadowMaker to back up the system and entire disk, or adopting Windows built-in backup and restore tool for system image backup and system disk backup, or cloning disk by means of MiniTool ShadowMaker? Just select one of them to protect your computer.

If you are interested in MiniTool ShadowMaker, don't hesitate to download this dedicated free software for backup & recovery solution.

Provided that you have some questions and suggestions towards MiniTool ShadowMaker, just email us via support@minitool.com or leave a comment below.