Best Way to Do Real-Time Backup to External Hard Drive

The best real-time backup software provided in this post to perform real-time backup to external hard drive in Windows 11/10/8/7 to get continuous data protection.


By Delia Updated on December 23, 2022

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What is real-time backup

Real-time backup is also known as continuous data protection (CDP), or real-time sync. It refers to a type of backup that automatically saving a copy of every change made to the data.

Real-time backup is different from conventional backup. In conventional ways, you can create backup images of the source data at any time point (or based on a schedule), and the accumulated backup files allow you to restore your data to a specified point in time if needed. Any data changes after this point will be erased.

By real-time backup, however, the changes you made to the source directory are reflected in the target directory immediately. This means you can always keep an exact copy of the source files/folders. But at the same time, you won't have multiple restore points to use as archives.

It can be seen that there is no superiority or inferiority between the two. Whether to choose real-time backup depends on your data type and frequency of changes.

real-time backup

Real-time backup to external drive may be necessary in some cases

Data security is the most important thing for most computer users, because data loss may bring great trouble. Therefore, you may take measures like backing up files or folders to protect data. 

If you've used Windows Backup and Restore, you probably know that external hard drive is recommended as the backup device. This is due to the fact that it is independent of the Windows operating system as a removable device. This makes the data stored on it immune to system errors.

And if the following conditions are met, a real-time backup to external hard drive may even be better than a regular scheduled backup:

  • The data you want to back up is very time-sensitive. For example, if you edit a document at work and need to take it home for further use, then you definitely want to keep the latest copy in the external drive.

  • You need to modify the data fairly frequently. If you modify a file once a day, then a daily scheduled backup may be enough. But if you make changes to it more frequently, without much regularity, then a real-time backup should be more efficient.

  • Your external drive has limited capacity. High frequency scheduled backups can accumulate a large number of backup files, especially if the data you are backing up is relatively large, your disk will fill up quickly. In this case, real-time backup is a more space-saving choice.

Besides, you can also consider a combination of real-time sync and scheduled backup. This will give you more flexibility in terms of data protection and recovery.

In the following part, I will show you how to create real-time backup to external hard drive.

Backup to External Hard Drive

Reliable real-time backup software - AOMEI Backupper

To set up real-time backup to external hard drive, you need a reliable third-party real-time backup software because Windows built-in tool doesn’t have this kind of feature.

I highly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Professional because it is a professional real-time backup software for Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP, which allows you to backup files in real time and store changes only since the last backup to save your disk space. It has clear interface and user-friendly design so that you can figure out quickly.

The Real-Time Sync feature (also a real-time backup) will detect the changes that happen to the file or folder in the source directory. Then, it will automatically sync files to external hard drive, network, even NAS in time.

Best Real-Time Sync Software to Auto Sync Changed Files

Besides, you can also use it create scheduled backup as a complement to the data protection strategy. For example, you can create real-time backup for some important files, while create daily or weekly scheduled backup for operating system, or even entire disk.

You can download the free trial to demonstrate these powerful features:

Download Free TrialWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

How to create real-time backup to external hard drive in Windows

Now, follow the detailed steps below to set up real-time backup for continuous data protection.

Before setting up real-time file backup: Please connect the external drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected. If you want to keep syncing files to external hard drive, you need to keep connecting external hard drive to your computer.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Click on Sync, and then select Real-Time Sync.

Real Time Sync

Step 2. Click Add Folder to add the items that you want to backup. Rename the Task Name if need be.

Add Folder

Tip: You can click Filter settings to include or exclude files and folders, such as backup files with certain extension.

Sync Click Filter

Step 3. Select the external hard drive as your destination path.

Select Sync Destination

Step 4. Press Start Sync to start perform real-time backup to external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Start Real Time Sync

What's more: flexible schedule options to auto backup files to external drive

Besides real-time sync, you can also create scheduled backup flexibly with this software. Its options include daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers and usb plug in.


The first three options are schedules based on backup frequency, while the last two options are based on specific events/operations.

By Event triggers, you can perform automatic backup to external hard drive at login/logoff, startup/shutdown.

By USB plug in, the program will automatically backup the local data to USB device or vice versa when it detects that the source or destination USB of the task is plugged in.

backup schedule usb plug in


With AOMEI Backupper Professional, setting up real-time backup to external hard drive is an easy job. It takes only a few steps to achieve continuous data protection without interrupting your important work and rebooting a system.

As the best backup software for Windows PCs, it also allows you create a system image to restore system back to normal if the system fails to boot, backup entire computer to external hard drive to protect everything, and so on.

If you are a Windows Server user, Please try AOMEI Backupper Server.

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.