Back up with OneDrive

One of the simplest ways to back up your PC is with OneDrive, which is built into Windows. With a Microsoft account, which you can create for free if you don’t already have one, you get your own private space in Microsoft’s cloud where OneDrive can keep copies of files from these locations:

If your computer suffers a disk failure, fire or theft, your files are safe in the cloud, and you can access them by signing into your Microsoft account from another device. If you replace your computer, your files will be automatically available on the new one.

Check that OneDrive is set up

To check that your Documents, Pictures and other key folders are being backed up, first find the OneDrive icon in the notification area — near the clock, usually in the lower-right corner of your screen. It looks like a cloud.

Note: If you can’t find the OneDrive icon, you might first need to click the show hidden icons button, which looks like an upwards arrow.

  1. Click the OneDrive icon.
  2. Click the cog (gear wheel) button and choose Settings.
  3. Click the Sync and backup tab (on the left).
  4. Click Manage backup.

Each folder’s status is indicated. If you want to back up any folders that aren’t already, toggle their switches on and click Save changes or Start backup.

Note: You might want to watch Microsoft’s video showing this process.

OneDrive works continuously in the background. You can check its status by clicking its icon in the notification area. When all is well, it will show a message like ‘Your files are synced’.

Test it

Just like it’s wise to test your smoke alarms and check your tyre pressures, you might want to do a drill now and again to be sure your OneDrive backups are working. The best way is to check the OneDrive website, which gives you a direct view of your online storage as opposed to the local files on your PC:

  1. Open a web browser, like Chrome, Edge or Firefox.
  2. In the address bar (at the top) type onedrive.com and press Enter on your keyboard.
  3. If prompted, sign in with your email address and Microsoft password.
  4. Check that your most recent document, photo or other file is present.