Backup Only New Files to External Hard Drive in Windows 10(2 Ways)

Learn how to back up only new files to external hard drive to save time and disk space. The steps are really simple, no specific technical skills required.


by Yuka Updated on October 19, 2022

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Need to Backup Only Newer or Changed Files to External Hard Drive

Backup only for files newer than a certain date?

“Is it possible to backup only files that are newer than e.g. 2 days ago? My problem: Once a month I do a complete backup of all my drives to an external hard disk. But I made a new task for the daily backups because for that I don't need the complete drives, only certain folders.


And I don't have enough free space for that on my external drive. So, how can I only save the files that are newer than the most recent full backup that's on the other drive?”

- Question from Acronis Forum

Can I only backup new or changed files to external hard drive in Windows? Some of you may have the same question as the user above. The answer is definitely YES. Only backing up new or changed files can not only save your time, but also save disk space.  And you can find 2 methods to help you complete this operation on this page.


How to Backup Only New Files to External Hard Drive

How Do I Backup Only New or Changed Files in Windows 10

Before telling you how to backup only new files to external hard drive, you must understand some basic knowledge. We mean the backup method you may use during the process, such as, full backup, incremental backup, or diffential backup.

A Full Backup is a complete backup of all files on the designated hard drive. It is always the basis of any incremental and differential backup. Although a full backup provides the best protection, most people do not use it every day because it is time-consuming and usually requires a larger disk capacity.

An Incremental Backup is a backup of all changed files since the last Full or Incremental backup. Data that have not changed will not be backed up. Thus, the time and image storage space required for incremental backups are both less than a full backup.

Incremental Backup

Besides, you may hear a premium backup method - differential backup. It only backup new or changed files as well and the basis is the last full backup, thereby it has high security and uses less time and storage space

Thus, if you want to backup only new or changed files in Windows 10, try the incremental or differential backup method. Follow and learn how to copy only new files to external hard drive with a step-by-step guide in the next two methods.

Copy Only New or Modified Files with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

The first way you can try is to apply Windows built-in tool - Backup and Restore (Windows 7) for creating a scheduled backup plan. Follow the steps below:

  1. Connect the external hard drive where you want to store your backup to the computer. Make sure it has enough space.
  2. Press Windows + S keys, type Control Panel in the Search box, and click the first result to open Control Panel.

Search Control Panel

  1. Click "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)" to open it.

Backup and Restore

  1. On the right panel, click "Set up backup".

Set Up Backup

  1. Select the connected external hard drive, and click Next.
  2. Tick “Let me choose” and click Next.

Let Me Choose

  1. Check the files or folders you want to backup and click Next.
  2. Then you will be asked to review your backup settings. Click "Change Schedule" in the bottom right corner and then select backup frequency, backup day, and backup time. Finally, click "Save settings and run backup".

Files that have changed and new files have been created since your last backup will be added to your backup according to the schedule you set.

Change Schedule

Copy New Files to External Hard Drive in Windows 10 with AOMEI Backupper

If you don't understand the Windows built-in backup tool well, the backup process may fail. Instead, the second method is easier and safer than the first method.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is a professional backup and restore software for all editions of Windows including Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10/11. It allows you to perform Full and Incremental Backup for FREE and its advanced version supports differential backup. With its help, setting to copy only new or modified files may be easier and simpler.

Below I will show you how to backup only new files to external hard drive via AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click the download button below to install it on your computer. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive with computer and make sure it can be accessible.

Step 2. Launch this freeware, click Backup -> File Backup.

File Backup

Step 3. Click “Add File” or “Add Folder” to select files you want to backup.

Add Files or Folders

Step 4. Click the box below the arrow to select the connected external hard drive to store the file backup image. You can also store the image to local drive, cloud drive, NAS device or USB drive, etc.

Select Destination

Step 5. Then click Schedule Backup in the lower left corner of the program. In the pop-up window, you can set the schedule backup of daily(default), weekly, monthly or event triggers and USB plug in

Schedule Settings General

Important Notes:
The last two options are available on the Professional or higher editions. 
If you want to copy files automatically when USB connected, try the premium feature -USB plug in.
For the previous 4 options, you need to connect the external device every time before the task start, otherwise, you will miss changes made during the process.

Step 6. After setting the Schedule Backup, Incremental Backup is selected by default under Backup Scheme to backup only new or changed files. Click OK to continue.

Incremental Backup in Backup Scheme

More options (only supported in Professional or higher editions):
★ Differential Backup: it will back up changed files based on the last full backup. In a simple word, it is a simplified version of  the last full backup, so you only need one full backup and any differential backup, instead of all of them.
Enable Automatic Backup Cleanup: the old backup will be automatically deleted to save your disk space. You have 3 options, among them, By quantity is the easiest one and By daily/weekly/monthly is the safest (save latest incremental or differential backup, and all the full backup).  

Step 7. Then click Start Backup to launch the progress. You have already set up the daily schedule backup that only backup new or changed files.

Start Backup

To Sum Up

You can learn how to backup only new files to external hard drive in 2 ways in this article. The first method is to use the backup software that comes with Windows, and the second method is to use a professional backup tool—AOMEI Backupper. After comparison, the second method is simpler and more suitable for novices.

Also, you can use File Sync to easily sync changed files from the source directory to the destination directory. If you are experiencing OneDrive sync pending problem, this software can help you solve it.

Yuka · Editor
Yuka, our dedicated editor at AOMEI Technology, is committed to bringing you valuable insights and guidance in data protection. Her mission is to empower everyone with her knowledge in computer backup and recovery, disk cloning, file synchronization, and more. Yuka's goal is to do her best to make complex tech tasks simple and ensure that your digital world remains safe and secure.