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Windows 11 (from MS News Centre)

Backing up Windows 11

Overview

Why are you doing this ?

I have lost count of the number of people why have asked me to repair or resuscitate a laptop or desktop running Windows because of some irreplaceable data. It would be cruel to say 'Wheres your latest backup?' to them because you just know that there isn't one. This happens on macOS too but less so these days because of the excellent and near invisible 'Time Machine' technology. So surely Windows 11 has decent backup tools now? I don't know the answer but since I've been using a Windows 11 laptop for a project I thought I'd better set it up.

TL:DR — Windows 11 comes with a decent set of tools for making backups. Backups are not things you need until the moment after you absolutely wish you had them. So do yourself an enormous favour and get an external drive bigger than the capacity of your computers internal drive. Plug it in, and set up the three backup tools that come with Windows 11 so that you have a safe and secure backup in case you lose or fry your computer. You'll need an external drive. I chose a Samsung T7 Portable SSD Mettallic Red 1 TB  and optionally an External USB 3.0 DVD writer if your computer doesn't have one in order to create a System repair disc that can be booted to access system recovery options.

Backing up Windows 11

Contents

Windows 11, Backup and Restore

Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Search for 'Control Panel' and then choose 'System and Security

Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security
Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security

Then choose 'Back up and Restore (Windows 7). I don't know why it has Windows 7 in brackets. I guess its an old but still supported tool. Seems a bit counter intuitive but here we are.

Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7)
Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Now you can see some back up options. I prefer the term 'backup' but Microsoft has both Back up and Back-up on this screen. 

Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Back up or restore your files
Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Back up or restore your files

Choose Create a system image

Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Create a system image
Windows 11, Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore (Windows 7) Create a system image

Select your nice new external drive. Ive partitioned it into two 500GB partitions, both in NTFS on the default settings.

Create a system image, Where do you want to save the backup
Create a system image, Where do you want to save the backup

Accept the defaults to to include the System Particion, Windows Recovery and your C: (System) drive. Microsoft use the term backup here after all!

Create a system image, Which drives do you want to include in the backup
Create a system image, Which drives do you want to include in the backup

Confirm your backup settings and click 'Start backup'

Create a system image, Confirm your backup settings
Create a system image, Confirm your backup settings

Let Windows do its work.

Windows 11, Windows is saving the backup

Windows 11, Windows is saving the backup

Windows 11, Backing up the EFI System Partition

Windows 11, Backing up the EFI System Partition

Windows 11, Backing up (C:)

Windows 11, Backing up (C:)

Windows 11, The backup completed successfully.

Windows 11, The backup completed successfully.

Windows 11, Create a system repair disc

Windows 11, Create a system repair disc

Windows 11, Using the system repair disc

Windows 11, Using the system repair disc

Windows 11, System repair disc complete

Windows 11, System repair disc complete

File History

File History saves copies of your files so you can get them back if they are lost or damaged

Select a drive for File History. I chose the other 500GB partition on my external SSD. Click 'Turn on'

Windows 11, System and Security, File History
Windows 11, System and Security, File History

Thats it. You are done!

Windows 11, Sysyem and Security, File History On
Windows 11, Sysyem and Security, File History On

Scheduled Windows Backup

Windows 11 can automatically backup your system, by default weekly, to an external drive

Now back in Back up and Restore (Windows 7) on Windows 11, choose Set up backup

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Set up
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Set up

Temp

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Select where you want to save your backup
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Select where you want to save your backup

Let Windows choose. On reflection this is the best choice as it saves everything you need.

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) What do you want to back up
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) What do you want to back up

Let Windows choose

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) What do you want to back up
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) What do you want to back up

Click Save settings and run backup

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Review your settings
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Review your settings

You can watch your backup run if you wish

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Back-up in progress
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Back-up in progress

And now its set you can be safer in the knowledge that it will run weekly provided your external drive is plugged in. Mines in a dock and so it usually will be fine.

Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Back-up completed and summary status
Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) Back-up completed and summary status

 


References

See also:

  • About Windows backup in Windows 11 Windows backup for Windows 11 backs up the settings you choose across all your Windows 11 devices that you've signed in to with your Microsoft account. Its completely different to Windows 11, Back up and Restore (Windows 7) which this article is about. Seems more confusing than it should be.