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How to back up your Windows PC to the cloud

Securing the contents of your PC shouldn’t be a difficult or confusing process. Thankfully, cloud backup makes it easy to recover and access your files whenever and wherever you need them. Find out how you can back up your Windows PC to the cloud.

Discover Dropbox Backup
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As you finish an article or finalize a project, you probably don’t want to think about unexpected system failures or computer crashes. Data loss is a worst-case scenario—but it can happen, and starting your work from scratch may not be possible.

As well as the documents created on your Windows PC, you might have transferred personal files like family photos and videos from your phone to your computer for safekeeping. That’s a lot of important data that would be difficult to recover or replace if lost.

There’s a lot that can go wrong with an external hard drive. It could be stolen, meaning your files could fall into the wrong hands. Your device could fail while you’re updating a file stored within it. Or a software glitch could completely wipe out everything stored on your drive.

If you experience any of the frustrating and potentially disastrous events, you’ll be glad you took the time to create backup copies of your data. Having a backup strategy will help keep your files safe from device damage, accidental data loss, ransomware, and other cyber attacks. 

A backup solution like Dropbox Backup will also make it much easier to recover lost files, so you can pick up where you left off. Unlike an external hard drive, with Backup you can access your files anytime and anywhere you need them.

Cloud backup will protect the data on your Windows PC so you’re never left without access to your important files. But before we show you how easy it is to back up your Windows PC to the cloud, there’s an important question to ask:

What exactly should you be backing up?

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What to back up on your Windows PC

In short, we’d recommend you back up:

  • Personal files like photos, videos, and music
  • Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
  • Emails
  • Databases
  • Social media data

An important thing to remember about backups is that you should never delete the original data after you‘ve created a backup. A backup is a copy of your data in a separate location, not a replacement to free up storage space on your device. That’s what online-only storage is for.

Don’t miss that one important file just because it’s in a different location!

Remember that data could be in a folder that is not Documents—there might be an important PDF invoice in your Downloads that you’ve forgotten about but need for tax purposes. Thankfully, services like Dropbox Backup make it easy to back up individual files just as easily as backing up your entire computer.

When should I back up my whole computer?

Regularly, but especially if you’ve just completed a big project, created or downloaded important files, or…any time you really don’t want to lose your data should something happen to your Windows PC. If at any point you think “I really don’t want to lose that file (or data)”, it’s time you made sure you backed it up.

It’s also worth backing up your whole computer if you are switching from an old operating system like Windows 7 to Windows 10. As this is a new system and not just an update, installing Windows 10 could wipe out the contents of your computer.

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“I want to back up my Windows PC—what are my options?”

The most effective backup strategy is to make at least three copies of your data to store in several different locations. Two of these backup options should be onsite solutions like external hard drives and flash drives.

Windows 7 had built-in backup software called Backup and Restore, but this program required external storage for you to backup to and from. 

Microsoft then developed a new backup program for Windows 8 and 10, called File History… which also requires an external storage device or a network location to back up your files.

However, File History can create an automatic backup of your files and store previous versions of files. This allows you to restore and access an earlier copy of a file.


Your third backup solution should be offsite, in an online backup environment like the cloud. Cloud backup will give your Windows the best protection from unexpected device damage and data loss. It is also the simplest way of restoring files when upgrading or updating your operating system.

How to back up your Windows PC with Dropbox Backup

To back up your Windows PC to the cloud, you should first of all have a secure and stable internet connection. Ideally, your internet connection should be strong and fast, so that the backup process doesn’t take longer than necessary.

The speed and ease of the cloud backup process will vary across different service providers. The best solution will prioritize data security and make backing up your Windows PC as simple as possible.

Dropbox Backup takes the stress and confusion out of cloud backup. Here’s how you can back up your Windows PC in three easy steps.

An animation of a desktop computer being backed up to Dropbox Backup.

Step 1:  Get the Dropbox desktop app and login to your account

  • Close any files and applications that you have open on your PC
  • Download and install the Dropbox desktop app if you don’t have it already
    • To use Dropbox Backup, you will have to disable any other backup providers like OneDrive
    • Once you have retrieved your files from your old backup provider, ensure they are back in their original folders on your PC
  • Open the Dropbox desktop app and sign in or create a new account

Step 2: Set up Backup

  • In your System Tray, click the Dropbox icon then your profile picture
  • Select Preferences, then the Backups tab, followed by Set up
  • Under Add a backup, select the PC you’d like to back up
  • Click Let’s get started

Step 3: Choose the files and folders you want to back up

  • A new window will pop up where you can choose the files and folders you want to be backed up
  • Check the boxes next to the files and/or folders you want to back up, then click Set up again or Back up
  • Dropbox will start backing up your data
    • You can use your PC as normal while the backup is in progress
  • If any files fail to back up, a shortcut will be created in your Dropbox account called Files on my computer that will take you to their location on your PC
  • After the backup is complete, your files/folders will appear in your Dropbox as My PC [Computer Name]

Don’t wait until something goes wrong

Dropbox Backup makes it easy to back up your files to the cloud automatically, so you can quickly and smoothly recover from whatever life throws your way.

Pick up right where you left off.

Learn more about Dropbox Backup