How to Incremental Backup HDD to External Hard Drive

How to incremental backup internal hard drive (HDD) to external hard drive when you frequently change and add files or applications on the hard drive? In fact, it could be easier than ever.


by Delia Updated on October 18, 2022

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Why incremental backup HDD to external hard drive?

System backup or disk backup is a normal way to protect your computer from system crashes or hard drive failures. And it is not rare to backup hard drive to external hard drive for better protection. The problem is that an external drive has its size limitation. It is easily to fulfill the disk if you want to keep the backup images up to date. In this case, incremental backup to external hard drive is a wise choice.

An incremental backup includes only changed or newly added data since the last backup, and saves them into a separate, additional, backup file. This undoubtedly saves your backup time and space (though requires a longer time for restoration).

In a nutshell, if you have a limited space of storage device yet want to make a backup of your system or hard drive regularly, then your can refer to the steps illustrated in the following article.

Incremental Backup

How to incremental backup hard drive

Windows has a built-in backup solution, which was introduced since Windows 7 and hasn’t changed much since then. If you want to make a backup only once, you may consider this Windows Backup and Restore. But to create incremental backup of HDD or SSD to external drive efficiently, it’s better to pick a good and easy incremental backup tool, such as AOMEI Backupper Standard.

It works with Windows 11, 10, 8.1/8, 7, Vista, XP, and supports any internal or external drive that can be detected by your computer. With it, you can set up an incremental backup task for files, partitions, system or entire disk, and customize the backup schedule in several clicks.

In addition to backing up hard drive to external hard drive, AOMEI Backupper Standard can also work as an external hard drive backup software to help you achieve various backup strategy.

Download the freeware to try it out:

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Incremental backup HDD with AOMEI Backupper


✤Connect the external hard drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected by Windows.

✤Install the backup tool and launch its main interface.

Step 1. Select Backup and choose Disk Backup for the entire hard drive backup. If you want to back up only operating system, then choose System Backup instead.

Disk Backup

Step 2. Select the internal HDD as the source disk.

Select Source Disk

Then select the connected external drive as the destination storage.

Select Destination Disk

Step 3. Click Schedule Backup to set up the backup frequency. Go to Backup Scheme and choose the backup type as incremental backup (it is set by default actually).

If you upgrade to Professional edition, you can enable automatic backup cleanup to auto delete older images.

Schedule Settings

Step 4. Click Start Backup, and it will run backup automatically at your designed time.

Start Backup


  • The first backup will run in the full backup mode as the prerequisite.

  • If you need to move the external hard drive sometimes, you can tick Run missed backup at next system setup box to make up for the missed backup.

  • If you need to encrypt and compress backup images, then you can set them up by clicking Backup Options.


Incremental backup is necessary when you have limited backup time and storage space. Luckily, incremental backup HDD to external hard drive could be set up easily with right backup utility.

In addition to backup & restore, AOMEI Backupper is also a disk cloning software that can help you duplicate hard drive without restoration. For example, you can clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.