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Backing up personal data and creating image of drive before updating Windows 10

In several posts regarding updating Windows 10 there are recommendations to either image the drive or at least backup personal data. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to do this and external sites where I can store the data. Thank you

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To create local backups, you can use refer to these guides:

To backup on your data, you can simply upload your files to OneDrive or similar service. However, on Windows 10, the best experience is using OneDrive.

Alternatively, you can simply copy and paste your files to an external drive, or you can use something like File History.

If you have important data that you want preserve, it’s always best to have one local backup and one cloud backup. Also, you shouldn’t just create a backup when you’re about to upgrade to a new version of Windows 10. You should be backing up your files regularly. At least once a week or month.

As a reminder the system image backup has been deprecated on Windows 10, but it still works for temporary backups.

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The advice given is excellent. Allow me to add a bit more information.

A Windows 10 System Image backup created using the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) is quick and easy to use. The only drawback for me is that I can’t explore any of those backed up files; they are only for restoring the whole setup of Windows and all your data. Using File History (or other data/file backup software) will allow you to browse and use any file or folder you want, BUT it will duplicate all your data that you included in the System Image. This means you will use up a lot more space on your backup hard drive or online “cloud” backup.

One way to avoid using up all that extra storage/backup space is to store all your data on a separate partition than your C: drive (Windows). Then you can create a smaller System Image and backup your data separately, thus saving storage space.

A good alternative is to use Macrium Reflect Free Edition. Here, you can create a full System Image backup, and it allows you to open, browse, and use any file or folder that’s in the backup. So, you don’t need to use extra storage space and duplicate your data backup.

There are video tutorials available for creating a System Image backup on Windows and separately for Macrium Reflect. I was able to use Macrium Reflect successfully on my first try several years ago, so I’m confident you can manage it, too.

Another suggestion: Consider purchasing a good external hard drive which connects to your computer via an included USB cable. This way you can plug it in, create a backup (or Restore one), then unplug it and store it in a drawer or elsewhere. If a hacker attacked your computer with malware or ransomware, your backup is safely disconnected and immune. At home we use a WD (Western Digital) My Passport 2TB portable hard drive. It’s pocket-size and holds multiple backups for our laptop and our PC.

One more thing: If you use online “cloud” storage you may wish to take an extra step to protect the privacy of your data. Before you upload your entire Documents folder, for example, you can encrypt the entire folder with a strong password which only you know. So, if someone gained access to your online files they won’t be able to read, view, or open any of them. A free and highly respected utility program called 7-Zip includes the option to right-click on any folder, even a large Documents or Photos, etc. folder, and “Add to archive …” A dialog box opens wherein you can choose to encrypt the folder with strong AES 256-bit encryption and set a password, then Save/OK. Now you have a fully encrypted version of that folder ready to upload to the cloud and it’s protected from prying eyes. In your internet browser type 7-Zip and search. You probably want the 64-bit version offered at the top of the page (version 19.00).

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Will start using the information provided. Appreciate your providing it. I have an external drive. Purchased in 2009 and only about 500 GB which I will try to use. Do not believe it is set up for Windows 10.

When I create he image with Macrium is it compressed or can I use 7 Zip to make it smaller?

Think I will create a new partition and save the image there to see how much storage space is needed. Know more now than I knew before so that is progress.

@starvinmarvin Could you provide additional information on how to create the separate partition on the C: drive (Windows). I was looking at several instructions and besides not being sure which one to follow they also recommend backing up all data before creating the partition which is probably a good idea but that is why your creating the partition in the first place. Thank you

  1. In Windows 10, right-click on the Start button and select “Disk Management”. A new window opens.
  2. In the lower half of Disk Management window, right-click on the partition labeled “C:” and select “Shrink Volume”. Wait for Windows to calculate the available space.
  3. In the highlighted area, type in the “amount to shrink” and click on Shrink near the bottom of the window.
  4. Follow any other instructions to complete the partition shrinkage.
  5. The area made available by shrinking the “C:” partiton should now appear as “Unallocated (or unused) space”.
  6. Right-click on “Unallocated space” and select “New simple volume”.
  7. You can choose the maximum size shown or type in a smaller size if desired. Follow the instructions, including selecting a drive letter for the new partition. (As an example, at home i use X: for my extra data storage and S: for system image backups.)