Back Up Your Whole System in Two Steps

This is a continuation from my previous article on how to make sure your files are backed up.

You either work from home or are a power user in an organization that might not give all the backup you need. Whatever the case, I will show you how to back up your entire machine using the built-in backup features in Windows.

Determine how much backup space you will need

You want to make sure you know your storage requirements before you start backing up your machine. It is quite easy to find out. On your Windows machine, open File Explorer and the find your system Drive. You may have more than one drive in the system but for the simplicity of this article we will work with a one drive system:

Looking at the Windows Drive it shows a total storage of 475GB. Not that you have determined your total storage space you need to get an external USB Hard Drive. I would recommend a WD USB Hard Drive. I would get one that is at least 512GB. The bigger the better.

Set up Windows Backup the Easy way

Backing up Files

Go to the Windows search:

Search for Backup and Choose “Backup settings”. Have your USB Drive connected to your machine and click “Add Drive”:

Choose it and now you have a drive where backups occur.

Accept the defaults if you want or choose different options. For example, you can change the frequency to once a day and the retention to one month.

You can also exclude certain folders in your back up.

Click backup now or just wait for the schedule you picked to kick in.


When you want to restore a file, you can either do it on of two ways.

You can go directly to the USB Drive and drill down into the File History folder until you find the backup of the file or…..

Go to the Folder where the file was located, right click, and choose properties. Then click on the previous versions tab and click the down arrow button and choose “restore to” if you want choose an alternate location.

Once restored you can sort through the folder an get the file you lost. It will be as current as the last successful backup.

Backup System

You will probably need to do this very infrequently if at all. See my tips on how to keep your system running clean (in a soon to be released post). All you must do is make sure system restore is turned on:

Search for system restore in the windows search bar in the lower left of your Desktop Screen.

Click configure.

Turn system protection is on.

To run a system restore go to back to this screen and click system restore:

Click next to start the system restore.

Choose the restore point.

There is other options you can chose, like show more restore points if you want to restore your system further back. There is also scan for affected programs if you want to see what programs might not work after the restore. You will just have to reinstall them. I have found that the restore works well. In some case you might not get everything restored perfectly but no system at all is a lot worse. The restore will take some time and a reboot will need to be done. However, you will be working in no time! If you also follow my articles on keeping your other files and settings backed up you will have all the bases covered.

Here is a funny TikTok video I posted about it.

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I am an IT professional with over twenty years experience in the field. I have supported thousands of users over the years. The organizations I have worked for range in size from one person to hundreds of people. I have performed support from Help Desk, Network / Cloud Administration, Network Support, Application Support, Implementation and Security.

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