Create Windows 11 Automatic Backup to External Drive: 3 Ways

This article introduces you to 3 effective methods to create Windows 11 automatic backup to external drive. You can choose to use Windows native backup tools or a professional backup utility - AOMEI Backupper.


By Jonna Updated on September 15, 2023

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How Do I Set up Auto Backup in Windows 11?

I switched from Mac OS X to Windows 11 a couple of days ago. Need to set up a workflow for automatic backups. Would love to hear how you more advanced Windows peeps do your auto back-ups on Win 11!

Are you also struggling to find a solution to do auto backup for Windows 11? Don't worry, this ultimate guide offers three available options to help you quickly and easily create Windows 11 automatic backup to external drive.

Windows 11 Automatic Backup to External Drive

Why Create Auto Backup to External Drive on Windows 11?

Paying attention to PC backup holds immense significance since data is easy to get lost. Besides, Windows systems, including Windows 11, remain susceptible to various challenges, such as upgrade issues, system failures, file corruption or loss, malware attacks, hardware breakdowns, etc. Consequently, safeguarding your files on an external hard drive proves invaluable. Here's why:

  • Separately from computer issues. Computer-related problems, such as system crashes, will lead to data loss. By keeping backups on an external drive, you reduce the risk of losing data.
  • Affordability. External hard drives are cost-effective and offer substantial storage capacity.
  • Portability. External drives are highly portable. You can easily carry them to different locations, making them ideal for users who need access files at home, or while traveling.
  • Faster backup. Compared with backup Windows 11 to NAS or online storage, backing up your files to external hard drive doesn't depend on a fast internet connection.

3 Simple Ways to Create Windows 11 Automatic Backup to External Drive

You can use the Windows built-in program or reliable Windows 11 backup software. Here, we have listed three ways that you can use to do Windows 11 auto backup to external drive.

Way 1. Auto Backup Windows 11 Files to External Disk with File History

File History is a built-in backup utility in Windows 11 that can automatically backs up your files to an external hard drive or network location. It specifically focuses on frequently backing up files located in essential folders such as Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. After backup, you can restore previous versions of files in case of accidental deletion, modification, or damage. Follow the steps below to take automatic backup to external hard drive for Windows 11:

Step 1. Connect the target external hard drive you intend to use for backups to your computer.

Step 2. Open System settings on Windows 11 > Storage > Advanced storage settings > Backup Options.

Backup Options

Step 3. Click Add a drive under Back up using File History to select your external hard drive.

Add a Drive

Step 4. Toggle on the switch for Automatically back up my files.

Automatically Back up My Files

Step 5. Click More options to set up the backup frequency, and other backup settings like retention time, and the folders you want to backup.

Backup These Folders

Step 6. Then, save your changes and click Back up now to begin the backup process.

How to restore file backup on File History

Open the More options feature of File History likewise, choose Restore files from a current backup at the bottom. Click the left and right arrows to locate the desired backup version, and select Restore from the menu or you can click the gear symbol and choose Restore to.

Restore Backup Files

Way 2. Auto Backup Windows 11 to External Hard Drive using Backup and Restore

Windows Backup and Restore is a legacy built-in solution that originated in Windows 7. This tool serves the purpose of backing up various data files from libraries, desktop, and Windows folders. Additionally, it offers the capability to create Windows 11 system images, including OS, applications, and configurations.

To perform Windows 11 backup to external drive automatically using this tool, here is what to do:

Step 1. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 2. On the right side of the panel, click on Set up backup.

Set Up Backup

Tip: If you want to take a Windows 11 system image backup, choose the Create a system image option on the left.

Step 3. Choose the external hard drive that you have connected to your PC as the destination for your backup.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. You have the option to select either Let Windows choose (recommended) to backup common files or Let me choose to customize the backup by selecting specific libraries and folders.

Choose Next

Step 5. Click on Change Schedule to customize the backup schedule. By default, it is set to back up files every Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Change Schedule

Step 6. After configuring your preferences, click Save settings and run backup.

How to restore backup from Backup and Restore

Go to the Backup and Restore page, and click on the Restore my files button under the Restore tab. Click Search to search for the backup file or folder directly, Browse for files to choose specific files to restore, or Browse for folders to select entire folders for restoration. Then, click Next to choose a restore location and start recovery.

Restore My Files

Way 3. Auto Backup Windows 11 to External Drive via Professional Backup Software - Easiest

If you are looking for a more flexible backup solution for Windows 11, you can go to AOMEI Backupper Standard, which offers comprehensive backup options and automates your backup more flexibly.

  • With an intuitive and user-friendly interface, it comes with file backup, partition backup, system backup, disk backup, and various backup options.
  • For automated backups, it offers 5 backup modes, including Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, and USB plug in.
  • By default, it uses an incremental backup method to backup only changed files, helping you save storage space and backup time.
  • Apart from external hard drive, various backup devices are supported like local disk, network drive, NAS, and cloud drives.

Download this Windows backup freeware and do automatic backup to external hard drive on Windows 11 right now.

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Step 1. Plug in an external hard drive to your computer and ensure it is accessible. Run AOMEI Backupper Standard, choose Backup and File Backup subsequently.

File Backup

Step 2. Click on Add File or Add Folder to choose the specific files or folders you want to include in the backup. Also, you can provide a new task name to distinguish this backup from others.

Add Folders Files

Step 3. Tap on the destination box and select the connected external disk to store the file backup image.

Select Destination

Step 4. To set up automatic backups, click Schedule Backup > Enable Schedule Backup and select a preferred backup frequency (e.g., Daily).


Step 5. Click Start Backup to begin Windows 11 automatic backup to external drive now.

Tips: To prevent the backup disk full problem, AOMEI Backupper provides an "Automatic Backup Cleanup" function that can help you auto remove old backup images (available in Pro version).

How to restore backup from AOMEI Backupper Standard

Connect the external disk that contains your backup image, go to the Restore tab on this software, click Select Image File to find backup files and choose the backup and certain files and folders you want to restore. Opt for a restore location, and click Start Restore.

Restore to New Location

FAQs about Performing Windows 11 Auto Backup

#1. Does Windows 11 Have a Built-in Backup Program?

Yes, as mentioned above, the Windows 11 OS offers a couple of Windows backup features - Backup and Restore and File History.

#2. Why Windows 11 Backup Options is Missing?

If you encounter Windows 11 backup options missing issue, like File History missing, it is possible that the File History option is disabled on your Windows 11 system. You can open the File History settings, and then turn it on.

#3. Is Windows 11 Backup and Restore Deprecated?

The Backup and Restore tool remains present in Windows 11 mostly for compatibility and the ability to access old backups. It’s no longer being updated, and even Microsoft has said it’s time to move on. However, it is considered a legacy tool and may not provide the best backup and restore capabilities compared to more modern and capable alternatives.


In this article, we have discussed how to create Windows 11 automatic backup to external drive with 3 solutions. We recommend the best solution, AOMEI Backupper Standard. This software has a solution for every backup need and is easier than ever. It provides more flexible scheduled automatic backups. So, download it today and back up and restore your essential data without wasting any time.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.