By Lily / Last update February 16, 2022

Get the difference among backup software and automatic backup your files:

Why need automatically backup files to external hard drive?

When was the last time you backed up the important files on your computer? Three months ago when your friend called in tears that she lost her thesis because of computer failure? Maybe it is longer. You know the importance of system backup, while files backup cannot be ignored, either, especially to backup those significant documents, office files, and irreplaceable photos.

Computer failure, hardware conflict, hard drive fails, or hacker invade is a fact of computer life. It’s not a matter of whether or not your computer will encounter these problems, it’s a matter of when. As for the destination backup path, you can backup files to internal hard drive or external hard drive or the like for better protection. The latter way avoids the data loss caused by system disk failure or system meltdown.

You know the importance of backing up, how about automatically backup? We all are busy with various stuff, work, family, friends, school, etc. It is hard to promise we can remember to do backup for each modifying. But with the help of a schedule or auto task, it becomes a piece of cake. And it saves you much time and effort as well as protect your precious memory.

How to automatically backup files to external hard drive

Usually, Windows backup utility can do a regular backup, such as, Backup and Restore, File History. Both of them allows you to automatically backup files to external hard drive. Also, there are many useful third-party software can do this, AOMEI Backupper Standard, for example. Then, which one should you choose to schedule backup files? Please stay for a while and check the difference among them, then make a decision.

Backup and Restore is able to backup files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders. Also, you can choose whether or not to include a system image in the backup task. In addition, you can choose to backup specific files or partition on the disk. It supports daily/weekly/monthly schedule backup

File History is designed to backup files or folders in the user folder, so you can only add files or folders you want to backup to that folder ahead of time. In Windows 10, you are allowed to backup specific folder by directly adding folders. It supports backing up files from every 10 minutes  to daily and saving multiple backup versions from 1 month to forever.

AOMEI Backupper  is an all-in-one backup software to backup files, partition, system, and disk per your needs. You can backup any files you want, from local disk, external disk, USB drive or network path. It supports multiple schedule settings and other backup options, such as, daily, weekly, monthly, incremental backup, normal or hight compression level, etc.

Now, you can choose one backup software among them and start your new journey to automatic backup files. 

Way 1: Automatic backup files to external drive with Backup and Restore

Step 1. Connect your external drive and make sure it can be detected. Then, search backup settings and select it > select Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under the Looking for an older backup option. 

Step 2. In the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) window, click Set up backup > select external hard drive > choose what to backup:  Let Windows choose or Let me choose. The second one will be more flexible, you can choose any items you want to backup, such as, files, folders, partition(s), system. 

Let Windows Choose

Step 3. Then, you will be asked to confirm the items you choose. Note the schedule backup is set to 7:00 PM every Sunday by default. To change it, click Change schedule. After that, click Save settings and exit

Then, when something unexpected happens, you can restore files from backup through Restore my files. If your backup is created on a different computer, please select choose another backup to restore files from.

Restore My Files

Way 2: Automatically backup files to external hard drive with File History

Step 1. Be sure the external drive is recognized.  Go to the backup settings window, click Add a drive option under Back up using File History and select external hard drive.

Step 2. Then, you will see Automatically back up my files option, turn it on.  Then, click More options to set backup interval and backup retention. 

The default backup inverval is "Every hour" and the backup retention is "Forever". But you can change the backup interval, from 10 minutes to daily, and the backup retention is the same, from 1 month to forever.

Click More Options

Step 3. Scroll down and take a look at the selected folders. Then, you can add, remove or exclude specific folder.

  • To add or exclude folders, scroll down to Back up these folders or Exclude these folders, select Add a folder option. 

  • To remove folder, select the folder you don't want to backup and then Remove

Backup Options

Step 4. Go back to the top location and click "Back up now".

Now, you already have a file history backup, you can restore file when needed. The simplest way is to right-click a file or folder and select "Restore previous versions", then select a backup version and click "Restore" to get your data back.

Windows 10 Previous Versions

Way 3: Backup files to external hard drive automatically with AOMEI Backupper

Step 1. Make sure the external disk is recognized. Then, download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Select Backup and File Backup in order.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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File Backup

Step 2. Click Add File or Add Folder to browse the files you want to automatic backup to external drive.

Add Folders Files

Step 3. Select the external hard disk as the Destination. 

Select Destination

Step 4. Tick Schedule option after selecting the destination, then you will see several options. Select daily, weekly or monthly.  

Schedule Settings General

You can also use the following feature:

  • Event triggers. It allows you to backup files at a specific event, such as, system shutdown. It's available in the professional version.
  • USB plug in.  It is able to backup files to or from USB drive automatically when detected. If needed, please upgrade to the professional version first.
  • Wake the computer to run scheduled tasks. It can wake your computer 2 minutes before the scheduled task start, so all your backup will be executed automatically without human intervention. It is very useful if the backup time is during off-peak hours.
  • Scheduled differential backup. It is capable of only backup changed files since the last full backup. To use it, you need to upgrade the standard version of AOMEI Backupper.

Step 5. Click Start Backup after your confirmation. The selected files and folders will be backed up at a regular basis.

To restore files from backup, go to Restore, select backup image and items you want to restore, then choose the restore path. 

Select Image

Way 4: Automatically copy files to external hard drive in another manner with AOMEI Backupper

Backup means you create an image for certain files, and when you need them back, you restore the image to files. Syncing files to external hard drive just like you make an exact copy for these important files and you can use it directly without restoring. 

Here you will use "Basic Sync" feature in AOMEI Backupper to sync files to external hard drive automatically. Also, you can other method, real-time sync for frequently changed files, mirror sync for exact copy of source directory, two-way sync for syncing changes in both sides. Then, let's get started. 

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, go to Sync > Basic Sync this time.

File Sync

Step 2. Click Add Folder and then This PC or Computer to add the items you want to back up from.

Add Folder

Step 3. Select the external disk as the target path.

Select Sync Destination

Step 4. Again, click Schedule to set auto-run task. 

Step 5. Click Start Sync to save settings or run file sync.

Start Sync Scheduled


  • Don't change the source folder name, otherwise the sync task will not sync changes made later.
  • Basic sync will not sync the deleted files by default, you need to enable this feature in the Options.
  • The core of Basic Sync is one-way file sync, that is, it will only sync changes from source to destination. If you need to monitor changes in both directories, please select "Two-Way Sync".


Automatically backup files to external hard drive the first time may take up a litter longer, but it worth to do that because it saves much more time than rebuilding the lost forever files or memories. If you just lost several files, you can do selective files restore without recovering the entire backup image.

No matter which method you’ll choose, the most important thing is to keep data safe. AOMEI Backupper has many other features embedded, such as system clone, disk clone, etc. Try it to experience more.