Create a backup

window screen on windows laptop explaining how to create a system image

Create a system image

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  4. On the left pane, click the Create a system image
  5. Under “Where do you want to save the backup?” select the On a hard disk option.
  6. Using the “On a hard disk” drop-down menu, select the location to save the backup.
  7. Select any additional drives that you may want to include in the backup.
  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Click the Start backup

Once you complete the steps, the feature will create a full backup of your computer and files. If you need additional assistance or you need to restore your device, then refer to this guide.

how to create a file back up using one drive menu on window device

Create a file backup using OneDrive

It’s also advised to create a separate backup of your files to make it easier to move your pictures, videos, and documents to another computer.

The easiest way to backup your files is to move them to your OneDrive folder and wait until they sync up to your account. If you already use the cloud storage service, all the files are probably already backed up in the cloud. If this is the case, setting up OneDrive on the new device will make the transfer super easy.

If you don’t usually upload files to OneDrive, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Locate the folder with files that you need to backup.
  3. Select the files and folders.
  4. Click the Move to button from the “Home” tab.
  5. Click the Choose location
  6. Select the OneDrive. Quick tip: If you want to keep your files organized, it’s best to create a new folder and set it as the destination to backup your data.
  7. Click the Move button

After you complete the steps, OneDrive will upload your files to the cloud, making them available across your devices.

If you have more files than space in OneDrive, you may want to consider upgrading the storage by purchasing an Office 365 subscription, which will get you 1TB of space.

create a file backup using an external drive window on a windows device

Create a file backup using an external drive

Alternatively, you can copy the files to an external hard drive.

To create a file backup, connect an external drive with enough storage, such as the 10TB external hard drive from Western Digital, and use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Locate the folder with files that you need to backup. Quick tip: If you want to backup your account folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Videos, and Pictures), make sure to select your profile folder located in this path C:\Users.
  3. Select the files and folders.
  4. Click the Copy to button from the “Home” tab.
  5. Click the Choose location
  6. Select the external drive.
  7. Click the Copy

Once you complete the steps, the files will copy to the external hard drive that you specified.

If you’re moving a new device, in addition to backing up your data, it’s a good idea to save your web passwords to make sure that you can sign back into your favorite websites.

Erase and reset

erasing data on windows 11 devices

Erasing all data

In the next step, you’ll use the recovery options to securely erase and reset the device to the factory settings to allow the next owner to set it up as their a new computer.

To use the “Reset This PC” feature to securely erase everything on the computer and reinstall Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under the Reset this PC section, click the Get started
  5. Click the Remove everything
  6. Click the Change settings
  7. Turn on the Data erasure toggle switch. Quick note: If you have multiple drives, you’ll also see a “Data drives” option to erase your files from all drives. If you see this option, and it’s because you have an external drive connected, it’s recommended to disconnect the drive and follow the steps again.
  8. Click the Confirm button.
  9. Click the Next
  10. Click the Reset

Quick tip: Once the reset is complete, it’s not necessary to finish the out-of-box experience (OOBE) as this is the part that will allow the next owner to set the device as their own.

After you complete the steps, the hard drive will be wiped out beyond recovery, removing your files, accounts, settings, and apps, and then Windows 10 will apply a fresh installation. The process could take a few hours, but it’s worth it, as it’ll be almost impossible for most people to recover your data.

resetting windows 11 devices instructions on a windows device

Reset Windows 11 devices ready for return

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Recovery page on the right side.
  4. Under the “Recovery options” section, click the Reset PC button for the “Reset this PC” feature.
  5. Click the Remove everything
  6. Select the Cloud download or Local reinstall, depending on how you want to reset the system.
  7. (Optional) Click the Change settings
  8. Turn on the Data erasure toggle
  9. Quick note: Use this option if you are preparing the computer for sale. Otherwise, if you are trying to refresh the installation, the default reset settings are recommended.
  10. (Optional) Turn on the Data drives toggle switch to erase the Windows 11 installation drive and any other storage drive connected to your computer.
  11. Click the Confirm
  12. Review the apps to reinstall after the reset to factory settings.
  13. Click the Next
  14. Click the Reset
  15. After you complete the steps, the process will erase the drives depending on your configuration and install a clean copy of Windows 11.
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