How valuable are your data? You should regularly back them up onto at least one second medium and always check that your data have actually been backed up.
- Regularly back up your data to an external hard drive, DVD, CD or online to Cloud storage.
- Check all your data are included in your back-up, and that they can be restored properly.
- To ensure your back-up data are protected against malware infections in the best possible way, you should only connect your external back-up hard drive when you are actually using it. Don’t keep your online storage for your back-up permanently connected either, but only when you are running a back-up.
These days, large amounts of data such as text documents, e-mails, photos, videos, music and more are stored on computers, tablets and smartphones. You cannot rule out that these data are partially or even completely destroyed due to incorrect operations (e. g. accidental deletion), a technical defect (e. g. due to a defective hard drive) or because of viruses, worms or Trojans.
What to do
There are various options for creating a back-up. One simple option to do so is to create a back-up copy on an external hard drive. To do so, users manually copy their files from their computer to an external data carrier. You should make absolutely sure to separate your external hard drive from your computer after your back-up has finished so that backed-up data are protected from viruses, worms and other malware. For home user purposes, it is generally sufficient to create a back-up every few weeks or so. For smaller amounts of data, you can also use writable CDs or DVDs to store them. If you have extensive amounts of data, back-ups can become rather involved - in this case, special back-up software can help. If possible, store the data carrier containing your back-up away from your computer in a safe place: Please remember that back-up data carriers can be destroyed, too, for instance if there is a fire.
Another good option to store your data is offered by cloud storage. This means your data are centrally stored on the Internet. Further information on this issue can be found in our article on Cloud storage.
With «Backup and Restore» under Windows 7 and «File History» under Windows 8 and Windows 10, you have convenient back-up features installed as standard available to you.
Further information (Windows 7):
Further information (Windows 8):
Further information (Windows 10):
You can use the «Time Machine» functionality incorporated in macOS to create back-up copies of your system and data (from Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 onwards). Information on how «Time Machine» works and how to use this feature can be found on the Apple support page under http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1427?viewlocale=en_US.
Smartphone and Tablet
Any smartphone and tablet can be connected to your computer using a USB cable and will then be recognised as a USB data carrier. This enables you to easily copy data such as photos, music or documents manually to your PC using a file manager facility (e.g. Explorer under Windows, or Finder under Mac The type of data which can be backed up manually depends on the operating system you use. There are other back-up processes, too, which differ from one operating system to the next:
With Android devices, you can back up your most important data onto a Google server - always assuming you are using a Google account. To activate this back-up feature, open the «Back-up and restore» option under System Settings. Activate option «Back up my settings».
Many Android devices offer device-specific back-up features, too.
With iOS devices (iPhone, iPad etc.), you use iTunes to back up onto a PC/notebook, or to the iCloud. To use iTunes for your back-up, connect your iOS device to your computer using a USB cable and then start the iTunes software. Select your device, and set «this computer» as the back-up target. It also makes good sense to activate the option «Encrypt local backup». You then start your back-up by clicking the «Back up now» button.
To activate back-ups via iCloud, open the setting of this name on your iOS device. Select «Storage & Backup» and highlight option «iCloud Backup». Your data will now be backed up to the iCloud. You can still run manual back-ups by using the «Backup manually now» button in iTunes.
With Windows phone devices you can back up various system settings and data such as photos and documents onto Microsoft servers. To do so, you have to create a Microsoft account on your device first. Go to your Windows phone device settings and navigate to «Backup», where you can select all content to be backed up.
Please note that when backing up data to device manufacturer servers or to the Cloud, your data might be transferred abroad. We therefore recommend that confidential data are backed up locally.