Best Way to Backup Multiple Computers to One External Drive
This article shows how to backup two or multiple computers to one USB type external hard drive in Windows via different backup strategies step by step.
Why backup multiple computers on one external drive
Nowadays, one family holds usually more than one computer for different uses. Each computer, more or less, stores important data that needs to be backed up. So if disaster occurs, there is a way to get the data back. Well, so many devices could be used as the backup storage, why choose one and only one external hard drive as the destination path?
Generally speaking, user who hasn’t purchase an external disk may think about backing up these computers to other storages, such as cloud storage and NAS. Truthfully, these two are not bad choices for large scale computers backup.
However, compared with external hard drive, there are two factors you need to pay attention to:
- One is the backup speed. Backing up files especially large-sized files to cloud takes up a lot of time.
- The other is storage price. For most families, it is a little bit wasteful to purchase a NAS for home computer backups. For office backup, it is not a bad choice though.
External drive ranks among the best of optional backup storages. It is easy to carry due to its portable property. An external hard drive with 1TB or 2TB capacity is affordable for most PC users. It is quite easy to backup one computer to external drive, so some users tend to purchase as many external drives as computers.
Equipping each PC with one external drive is acceptable so long as there are enough budgets. But from common perspective, that is costly and to some extent hard to manage.
Now that it is possible to backup multiple computers to one external drive, why not? Now, let’s learn how to backup more than one computer to a single external drive in details.
How to backup multiple computers on one external hard drive
It is important to know that the external hard drive you are going to used as the backup storage should be large enough to store at least all the files you want to backup, let alone later scheduled backup with backup scheme.
Solutions are different when you buy different external hard drives. For instance, there are network type external drive and USB type external drive on the market. Network type external drive like Seagate FreeAgent has bundled backup software that allows its user to backup multiple computers with unique computer name to separate directories of the drive.
Each directory’s name is named after each computer’s name. It also has tutorial to guide you do the backup. Such backup solution really helps a lot yet it needs software license or the like in most cases.
The other USB type external hard drive is the most common one in our daily life. It can be connected to any computer via USB cable and USB port. The drawback of this type external disk is that it can only connect to one computer at a time. Obviously, we need to find a way to let it become the backup storage of all computers’ files.
Auto backup two computers to one external drive in Windows 7
A low tech way is to create sub-folders for each computer on the external drive, connect it to one computer and backup it to the corresponding sub-folder. Keep moving the external back and forth between computers every few days so they each get a chance to backup. This is the easiest way yet it needs more time and effort.
If these computers are all in the same segment of LAN and they can “see” each other in Network like picture below, things would be better. We can set the external drive as network shared that is available for all computers in LAN. Then choose a backup utility like AOMEI Backupper Professional to backup computer to network location.
It allows you backup system, entire disk and single files to external disk. File sync is also available. Sounds simple, isn’t it? Keep reading to learn the specific steps.
1. Attach your external drive to one of the computers first. If it is a new drive, you need to format hard drive before you can use it. Find the external drive in Windows Explorer, create several folders for each computer and you can name the folder after computer’s name or just numbers.
2. In Windows Explorer, right click the backup drive and select Properties > Sharing. You’ll find Not Shared under Network Path. Click Advanced Sharing and check Share this folder box in the pop-up window. You are allowed input comments here. Be sure to click Permissions.
3. In the Permission dialog, make sure Full control, Change and Read all have Allow checked. Then click Apply to save the change.
4. Back to the Properties window, you can see the network path of this drive is “\\Aomei-pc\f” in this example. Keep it in mind because you’ll need it later.
Note: This action will make any machine on the local network have full access to this drive, for example read and write to it. It’s still protected by the security software on the machine it’s connected to, and it’s still behind the routers firewall so it’s inaccessible from the Internet.
5. Download, install and run AOMEI Backupper on both computers.
Follow these steps to backup multiple computers to one external drive. For example, click on File Backup. Select files and folders you want to backup via Add File or Add Folder and then click to select a network path.
6. At this page, click Add Network Location and then input the aforementioned network path to open the backup folder.
7. Click Schedule Backup to set regular and auto backup with Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Event-trigger. Finally, click Start Backup to run the backup.
Important: if you unplug and re-plug the external drive after sharing, the drive letter could be assigned to a different one, which will cause the backup destination path inaccessible and invalid. So take caution with that behavior.
You can set email notification and password protected in Options.
Backup Scheme enables you to Enable Automatic Backup Cleanup to manage destination storage by auto deleting old backups.
System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Sync are available as well. If you create an AOMEI account, you can also use the Cloud Backup feature to backup files to AOMEI Cloud.
The follow-up backup work can also be done using Windows Backup and Restore which surely provides limited function compared with AOMEI Backupper.
Important notice: if you've mapped an external hard drive as network drive, it is better to use AOMEI Centralized Backupper to centralized backup multiple clients (computers) to the external drive from one console easily and quickly.
Can you backup multiple computers to one external hard drive and even automatically? I’m sure you have had answer for the question after this tutorial. As covered before, many solutions can help you reach the goal, just select the most suitable one for yourself.
The backup software in the example also has the ability to backup multiple hard drives to external drive under same Windows operating system. You may want to download (Windows 10, 8/8.1, 7, XP and Vista compatible) this tool and learn more.
If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.