Backing up data refers to the process of copying and archiving data from one location to another. It is quite easy to misplace or delete important files by accident therefore, it is a great idea to store them in multiple locations where you will be able to retrieve them easily.

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Backup Methods

There are several diverse ways of backing up data. A good guideline is to have your data in at least three places: your computer, a local backup (external drive/flash drive), and a cloud service. To make sure that you have a clever idea for what you may want for your situation refer to the following list with the most common examples of backups:

External Hard Drive 

An external hard drive is a physical device with which you store data on. It can be small and portable, such as a flash drive, or it can be larger to offer a greater amount of storage capacity. Using external hard drives allows you to have a backup copy of your important files in an easy to access location if your computer hard drive stops working.

  • Backing up files onto an external hard drive is easy, in most cases external hard drives come with software that will install once the device is plugged into the computer's USB port. 

  • After the drive is recognized (also referred to as "mounted"), you can go to File Explorer by pressing the "Windows logo + E" keys. The button equivalent will look like a folder on your task bar at the bottom of the screen. Once there you should see the new hard drive as an icon for the new hard drive. Double click to open it up. Once the new window opens, any files you wish to save can be simply copied (Control + C) and pasted (Control + V) into the new window where your drive is located. The files will then be copied to the external hard drive where they will be stored until you remove them or the external hard drive dies.

  • On a Mac, there is a built-in back-up program called Time Machine. When you connect an external drive directly to your Mac, you might be asked if you want to use the drive to backup with Time Machine. Click Use as Backup Disk.

    • If Time Machine doesn't ask to use your drive, follow these steps to add your external hard drive manually:
      1. Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar or choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
      2. Click Select Backup Disk (or Select Disk, or Add or Remove Backup Disk)
      3. Select your external drive from the list of available disks. Then click Use Disk

Online (Cloud) Backup Solutions

Backing up your data to the cloud can be accomplished through several services. There are fee-based services that offer different plans, with monthly or annual costs depending on the amount of space you require. Some services even offer free limited plans if you only have a small amount of data to back up or if you’d like to test out the service before committing to a subscription. In some cases, you may not need a lot of space and simply wish to store some files online for easy access. Many free options exist for this purpose with more storage space available at an additional cost. Some options include:

Getting Help

For support of the information above, contact the ITS Help Desk at 315.443.2677, help@syr.edu, or by stopping into 1-227 CST (Hours of Operation)