By Ivy / Last update May 11, 2021

Backup desktop or laptop with professional backup software or built-in tool:

Need help: how do I backup my entire computer to an external hard drive?

“After realizing that there are chances to encounter hard drive failure, system crash or other events during the usage of computer, I decide to backup my Dell desktop to external hard drive in case of issues aforementioned. It is with 500GB HDD and running Windows 10. But I have no idea about how to backup desktop to external hard drive. Is there any idea?”

You may have similar questions, and want to backup desktop or laptop to external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. You could continuously read this article and learn the given solutions in this article. 

If you want an all-round and feature-rich backup software, you could use AOMEI Backupper Professional. If you think the buil-in tool is good enough, you could use it as a priority choice. 

Easy way: Automatically backup desktop or laptop to external hard drive with AOMEI Backupper 

AOMEI Backupper Professional not only can help you backup entire computer, but also allows you to backup system, partition or individual files. Based on these backup solutions, it still provides you more useful features, such as, daily/weekly/monthly schedule backup, full/incremental and differential backup, password encrypt backup image, compress backup image with normal or high compression level, etc. Also, it supports Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista. 

Now, have a look at how to backup desktop to external hard drive via it. First, you need to connect an external hard drive to your computer, either desktop or laptop, and make sure it can be detected. Then, download AOMEI Backupper Professional and install it on your computer. For Windows Server users, you can employ AOMEI Backupper Server.

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Step 1. Run AOMEI Backupper Professional, then in the main console of it, choose Disk Backup under Backup.

Disk Backup

Note: If you want to backup computer files to external hard drive, click File Backup as instead.

Step 2. Click Add Disk and then you will see all the available disks on your computer. Select the disk you want to backup and click Add.

Add Disk

Step 3. Click the folder shapped button > Computer/This PC and then select the connected external hard drive as backup destination.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Then, you will go back to the main page of Disk Backup. Click Backup Options, Schedule or and Scheme to set your personal settings. 

  • Backup options: allows you to encrypt, compress and split backup image during backup process.

  • Schedule: allows you to backup disk at daily, weekly, monthly, event-trigger or USB Plug in; offers three ways to backup: Full Backup, Incremental Backup and Differential Backup(backup only changed files).

  • Scheme: enables you to manage disk space by deleting old backups via a specific role.

Backup Settings

Step 5.  Confirm all the items you choose, and click Startup Backup to backup the entire computer to external hard drive.

Wait untill the backup process completes, click Finish to exit. Then, it's suggested to create a bootable media via AOMEI Backupper, which can help you boot computer when it fails. Thus, even if your computer does not boot, you can restore disk when needed.

Traditional Way: Backup desktop or laptop to external hard drive via Backup and Restore

Built-in tool will also be a very popular choices, because it is able to help users backup entire computer without costing them a penny. It gives you a choice to backup data files saved in libraries, on the desktop or in the default Windows folders and you can include a system image backup. Also, you can choose to backup entire disk including the system partition. The detailed steps are given below:

Step 1. Connect an external hard drive with enough capacity to your desktop. If it is an unallocated disk, you should create partition on it and assign partition with drive letter, so that it can be used to save data.

Step 2. Open Control Panel. Then, go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under System and Security and click Set up backup.

Set up Backup

Step 3. Choose the external drive as backup destination and click Next.

Save Backup on

Step 4. It will ask you what you want to back up, you can choose one based on your demand (here Let Windows choose is selected.).

If you just want to backup files saved in libraries, on the desktop, in default Windows folders, choose the first option; if you want to backup specific files or folders, choose second one.

Let Windows Choose

Step 5. Here you can see what will be backed up.

The default backup schedule is Every Sunday at 7:00PM and it will backup files and its changed content since the last backup. If you think it's feasible, you can click Save settings and run backup to execute the backup right now.

Save Settings

When the backup process completes, you will a backup image at the external hard drive, it can be used to restore files or system.

  • To restore files, you can open Backup and Restore and click Restore My Files or Restore all Users’ Files to restore files.
  • To restore system, you need to create a system repair disc and then restore system image to new hard drive under the recovery environment.

Note: As time goes by, you will have multiple backups that will occupy much disk space. But you can remove older backups by Manage space option in the Backup and Restore.  

Video Tutorial:

If you are not clearly about the steps, you can directly watch the given videos below. 

Final Words

Now, surely you have realized how to backup desktop or laptop to external hard drive. There is no doubt that Windows Backup and Restore function is helpful in backing up PC files automatically and regularly.

But AOMEI Backupper will be my preference due to it has more advanced features, such as, system backup, file backup, disk backup, schedule backup, incremental backup, create bootable media, etc. In fact, it is far more than backup software; it also allows you to clone disk to disk, clone partition and etc.