How to backup to network drive / SAN - entire computer, including software programs, settings and files
In this article, we'll learn how to backup the entire computer to a network drive or to another computer. The backup software we'll use allows you to backup your entire Windows 10, including applications, program files, user settings, profiles, emails, documents, pictures, music, favorites - everything you've got.
Why use a network drive for backup?
Using a network location has several advantages over USB drives or Cloud storage.
Unlike a USB drive, the network drive is "always on" - you don't have to keep a physical devices connected to the computer (and let's face it, if it's a laptop, you won't keep the drive connected at all times).
As for Cloud storage, it is quite slow - and expensive - compared to local network storage. Plus, your own network location is private, and safe from data breaches and data theft.
Once we have a way to back up everything on your computer, we also want that backup to be automatic (so that it is always up to date), and easy to use (otherwise, you'll just stop using it...). And, of course, we'll discuss the most important part of any backup: how to actually restore from it?
How to back up your entire PC to a network drive / NAS / SAN, including program files, settings, and data
- The first thing you need to do, of course, is to decide on the network location you will use for your backup. Ideally, you should have twice as much space as you are using on the computer. So if you have 200GB used space on the computer, 500GB available space on the network drive will be enough. If you have 2TB of pictures, better get more space of course.
- Download and install Zinstall Backup (you can get Zinstall Backup here.)
- When you first run it, it will be in the Off position. Click "Settings" to configure the backup location.
- Click the "Change" button on the right, and type in the path to your network drive (e.g. \\MyHomeServer\backup-folder or \\192.168.1.5\backups)
- When done, close the Settings window to get back to the main screen
- Click the big on/off button on the left, and Zinstall Backup will start working.
- That's it!
Can I backup multiple computers to same network location?
Yes, you absolutely can! Zinstall Backup will create a separate subfolder for each computer you back up. Simply set it up on every computer you want, and point the backup location to the network drive.
Can I backup different drives on my computer to different locations?
Yes, you can. The backup location for each drive is configured separately, so you can tell C: to be backed up to one location, and D: to another, for example.
So, what happens now?
Zinstall Backup will first make a full backup of the entire computer. It means every file, every program, every setting you have there - all backed up and protected.
After that, it will keep backing up the changes on your every hour. So if you change a file, or install a new program, your backup will be updated accordingly within 60 minutes. This is all done completely automatically. In fact, you probably won't even feel it running. It is very efficient in handling just the changes made, and even protects the hard drive's health, by minimizing the amount of reads and writes to it (this makes the drive live longer!)
If you get disconnected from your network drive, that's OK - Zinstall will patiently wait until you connect it again and continue backing everything up, automatically.
Of course, the real reason you have a backup is the restore part. How do you restore a single file that you've misplaced? And how do you restore everything, including program files, if your computer crashes? Read on to find out.
How to restore a file that I've accidentally deleted?
So you were working on an important document, and now it's gone. Fear not - that's exactly why you have set up an automatic backup of your entire Windows 10! Here is what you do:
- Open your Zinstall Backup's Restore wizard.
- If you remember the file's name, just type it into the search box. It will appear below.
- If you don't remember what the file was called, but do remember where it was, you can browse your backup files, and find your file like that.
- Once you have the file, just hit restore - and it will appear exactly where it was, up to date!
That's it - your file is back and unharmed.
My computer crashed. How do I restore everything from the backup, onto another computer?
This is something you can only do if you have used Zinstall Backup. It actually preserves all the stuff from your backed up computer (programs, settings, files, emails, accounts, password, favorites, documents, pictures, music, etc.) onto a completely different computer and completely different Windows. Even if you've backed up a Windows 7 32bit Dell, and your replacement PC is a Windows 10 64bit HP, you can still restore everything you've got.
To do that, run Zinstall Rescue Kit on the new PC. When prompted, tell it to migrate from the backup container on the network drive, and let it complete the restore. When finished, just restart the computer, and you'll see all the programs, settings and files from your crashed computer.
Are there other ways to backup everything on my computer?
Yes, Zinstall Backup is not the only option out there (although we believe it is the most effective). Here are some other ways you can handle your backup:
- Disk Image / Clone tools (Windows System Backup / Acronis): these are the pro-oriented options, which simply take a full clone image of the computer. Like Zinstall Backup, they capture your entire computer. The downside is that that you have to manually do the backup (so it will be outdated soon), it is very difficult to restore a single file, and if the computer crashes, you'll need to restore to the exact same hardware model (and you can't restore to a different Windows).
- Copying files to a USB stick / Cloud backup / Dropbox / OneDrive: this is not really a backup (manual, does not even come close to covering everything you have, does not cover programs or settings), but it is better than having no backup at all! Plus, it is free. So if your choice is doing nothing at all vs. copying files to a USB stick, do the USB stick. Then again, you can get Zinstall Backup for as low as $6.90/m (here), so if it is within your budget, we'd recommend going with the Backup.
- Apple's Time Machine: this product is very similar in its concept to Zinstall Backup, but only available for Mac OS. If you have Mac OS, use it - it is very well done, and simply to set up and use.
If you've ever experienced a computer crash or data loss (hopefully not first hand), you know how it feels. Out of nowhere, your files are gone, your programs are gone, your settings are gone. In fact, there is no way to prevent a disaster like that. It will happen, eventually.
But you can be ready for it.
As they say, the best day to do a backup is yesterday. The second best day is today.
If you have no backup at all, and don't want to purchase one, at least copy your important files to a USB stick or another computer, and do it now.
If you are looking for a proper backup solution, that will backup everything on your Windows 10, to backup programs, settings, files and all the rest on your computer, Zinstall Backup is the best choice for it.
It is complete, automatic (and always up to date), efficient, does not slow down your computer, preserves your hard drive - and most importantly, you will be able to restore your files, and your programs, when you need them.
Ready to backup your whole computer to a network drive? Get Zinstall Backup here.
Video: The easiest way to backup your whole computer, automatically and efficiently