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How to Automatically Backup Files to An External Hard Drive | 3 Ways

Updated by Jean on Nov 30, 2021
Written by Brithny

What is the best strategy to retain your computer data from a severe system crash, hardware failure, or virus attack? Creating a full backup of your computer data is the best way out.

Also, note that the most recommended way is to create a regular backup plan, automatically backup files to an external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7 computers. Here, we collected 3 backup tools to protect your files from various disasters effectively:

Backup and Restore vs. File History vs. Windows Backup Software

Which method to choose? Backup and Restore, File History or Windows Backup Software? Some of you may have the same question here, which backup tool should I choose?

Here, we listed a brief comparison table to help you decide which tool suits you the most:

Windows Backup Software Windows Backup and Restore File History
  • Back up files, folders, hard drive partition
  • Back up OS and applications
  • Back up files, folders, hard drive partition
  • Back up OS.
Back up files and folders under C:/ user folder.
Support Windows 10/8/7, Windows XP, and Vista Support Windows 10/7 Support Windows 8/10

Editor's Pick: For the easiest method, take Windows backup software as your first choice as it's easy and efficient in file backup. 

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Let's see how to automatically back up files to an external hard drive with the 3 mentioned tools now. 

Method 1. Automatically Backup Files to External Hard Drive via Windows Backup and Restore

Pros: Free, and portable. Cons: Huge image size, nearly the same as the source files.

Windows Backup and Restore (Windows 7) program is a native tool that allows you to set up a backup plan to automatically back up files, hard drive partition, even including a system image, to an external hard drive based on a fixed time interval. 

Tutorial: How to Set Up Backup Plan to Auto Back Up Files to External Hard Drive

Prerequisite: Keep the external hard drive connected to your computer all the time. 

Step 1. Go to Settings > System and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 2. Click "Change settings", select the external hard drive ("Removable Disk") to save a backup, and click "Next".

Select external hard drive as backup destination

Step 3. Then click "Let me choose" and "Next" to specify files that you need to back up.  Click "Next".

Select files to automatically back up to external drive

Step 4. Click "Change schedule", set to run the backup task on a schedule by daily, weekly, or monthly, and click "OK".

Set up auto backup plan

Step 5. Click "Set settings and run backup". 

Wait patiently to let Windows Backup and Restore complete the process. 

Method 2. How to Automatically Backup Files to External Disk With Windows File History

Pros: Free, and fast. Cons: Huge image size, can't back up non-system drive files.

Like Windows Backup and Restore, Windows File History is another built-in tool that allows you to create an automatic backup plan of specific files on computers. However, this tool can only backup C drive files, including Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Music, Downloads, OneDrive, etc.

Tutorial: How to Automatically Back Up Files to an External Hard Drive via File History

Prerequisite: Always keep your external hard drive connected to the PC.

Step 1. Open Control Panel, select "File History".

Step 2. Click "Select drive" on the File History window.

Step 3. Select your external hard drive "Removable disk" and click "OK" to continue.

Select external hard drive to automaticlly backup files

Step 4. Click "Advanced Settings", you can set how often to save copies of your files by minutes, hours, or daily.

Set up back up plan

Step 6. Click "Run now".

File History will automatically back up all folders under C: /Users/account name to your external hard drive.

Method 3. Auto Backup Files to External Hard Drive Using Windows Backup Software

Pros: Fast, simple, small image size, and portable.  Cons: Not 100% free.

Compared to Backup and Restore and File History, Windows backup software like EaseUS Todo Backup is easier for beginners to back up everything on their computers to an external hard drive. Specific individual files, whole hard drive partition, or even the OS and applications, can all be backed up automatically. 

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Here, EaseUS backup software offers the scheduled backup option to help you automatically backup files to an external hard drive:

#1. Automatically Backup Files to External HDD by Daily, Weekly, or Monthly

Prerequisite: Connect the external hard drive connected to the computer all the time.

Step 1. For the first time you use EaseUS Todo Backup to back up files, click Create backup on the home screen and then mouse click the big question mark to select backup contents.

backup files step 1

Step 2. Since you're going to back up files and folders on your computer, go on with the "File" backup mode, where you can select pictures, videos, documents and all other types of files to back up.

backup files step 2

Step 3. Follow the paths to locate the files, folders or directories you want to back up, select them all and click "OK".

backup files step 3

Step 4. Now you need to select a backup location to save and retain the backup.

backup files step 3

Step 5. EaseUS Todo Backup allows users to save the backup files to every device that is handy for you, like a local hard drive, external USB drive, SD card, network drive, or a NAS drive, plus a cloud drive of the EaseUS brand. We personally recommend users to choose the cloud drive prior to a physical drive to save important backups due to the greater accessibility, flexibility and safety.

backup files step 5

To be able to access to EaseUS cloud, all you need is an email registration and login. 

backup files to cloud

Step 6. If you're interested in an automatic and intelligent backup schedule for the next file backup task, go on with the "Options" setting. There you can encrypt a confidential file backup, compress the backup image size, or customize a backup scheme to tell the software in what time to start the next backup. 

Customize an advanced and automatic backup task here:

backup scheme

Step 7. Click "Backup Now" to start the file backup process. Your completed backup files are visible on the left area in a card style.

backup files step 6

You can also use this feature to automatically backup to USB drive when plugged in.

It's Your Turn. Take Steps to Automatically Back Up Your Files Now

On this page, we showed you the best strategy for protecting your personal data in Windows 10/8/7. And we collected 3 tools to help you out: 1. Backup and Restore; 2. File History; 3. Windows Backup Software. Which one to pick?

Here is Editor's Suggestion:
To back up the most files on your computer, EaseUS Todo Backup with its schedule backup feature seems to be the easiest and most efficient solution.

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Support Windows 11/10/8/7

No matter which tool you decide to use, take action to automatically back up your valuable files now.

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. On her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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Product Reviews

TrustScore 4.7 | 47 reviews
  • Taking everything into consideration, we can say that EaseUS Todo Backup Home can offer you a little extra sense of security with a set of advanced tools. The interface provides quick adaptation, every process guiding you all the way through so you don't get stuck or further damage your system rather than keeping it safe.

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  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free lets you create backups of your important files or your entire computer through its streamlined interface. Just choose the backup type you'd like to get started, and let the program do the reset.

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  • EaseUS includes all the features I expect from backup software like versioning, incremental backups, and scheduling. For more advanced users, EaseUS allows you to install a pre-boot environment onto your hard drive so you can use it to restore files without burning a CD or putting it on an external USB drive.

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