blogs / writers tips

Backup and Image Your Computer

This week, I’ll post my updated suggestions for three holiday activities that will get your computers and technology ready for the blitz of writing you’ll swear to accomplish in New Year resolutions. Here’s what you’ll get (the links won’t be active until the post goes live):

  1. 11 Ways to Update Your Online Presence
  2. 16 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer
  3. Backup and Image your computer

For regular readers of WordDreams, these are yearly reminders which I update each December as needed. For new readers, these are like body armor in the tech battle. They allow you to jubilantly overcome rather than dramatically succumb.

Today: Backup and Image Your Computer

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • back up your documents
  • image your computer

Backup Data Files

Every writer I know has lost critical work because they didn’t back up on a regular basis. There’s no reason for that. Backing up is easy, fairly quick, and usually free.

Here are some options for backing up your computer:backup via email

  • backup from Windows Settings>Backup.
  • use a service that automatically and continuously backs up data files to the cloud so even if you forget to do this, they don’t. 
  • email copies of your most important writing to yourself. For my WIP, I do it every day. If you use Gmail, you can email up to 20 MB (or more through your Google Drive).

For more details on backing up your computer, check out LifeHackerPC World, and Windows online help.

A reminder from Janet over at Focused on Story:

“…check your external hard drive to make sure it actually has the computer backed up files on it. Unfortunately we backed up to it, but all of the files weren’t getting backed up. We’d had the back-up a long time, so when the tech checked it, he heard something rattling inside. It was broken! sigh.”

Yep–I had that happen once, too!

Another suggestion from Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week:

“On a Mac, use an external USB drive and time machine to backup and consider using iCloud for remote backups.”

Image your computer

When you image your computer, you take a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, and save in a secure backup area. If malware blows up your computer or ransomware locks you out, all you have to do is re-install from the image.

I used to do this with Carbonite but they no longer offer that service so now I use Acronis. It creates an image of my computer on the schedule I set up. It’ll even image drives that are plugged in (like my USB drive).


Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022

48 thoughts on “Backup and Image Your Computer

  1. Thanks Jacqui – thanks so much for these reminders … I must learn a bit more about ‘things’ including what I need to do now I’ve got a Mac … and will be back to pick ideas up – and get help, organised already, in the New Year. Cheers and have a happy and peaceful Christmas with family and friends – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yup – tis the way of things Mac v Pc lovers … but being offered a Mac – I thought I have to go with it … live and learn – and some learning to do – keeps the brain cells active. A number of people have said they couldn’t comprehend the Mac, my brother included, then Mac users can’t comprehend the Pc ,,, such is life. I have a techie friend coming to help me in the New Year, and before that Mac for Seniors – a large tome in large print to potter through, learning as much as I can. I have to convert some pc files across – so need to master it.

        Thankfully when techie friend ‘chucked’ all my files over … she gave me a brief overview of a few key things … so I can do what I need – some things via the pc … but time to study over the next couple of weeks.

        You enjoy yourself … cheers H

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t put anything on my hard drive that’s worth backing up, let alone imaging. Everything important is on an external drive or in a cloud. Be that as it may, I do have my hard drive backed up automatically to a cloud to be on the safe side.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been backing up my critical documents to iCloud from my MAC and just love it. When I think about why you need to backup, things like your house burning down is increasingly in my mind so getting important stuff backed up to a cloud (or other off-site) solution makes a lot of sense and certainly something I’m doing more of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great post, Jacqui! I’ve had to restore an iMac before. Fortunately, Apple’s Time Machine app had everything backed up on a portable hard drive. The Migration Assistant made it easy to restore my computer.

    If you buy a new Apple computer, Migration Assistant can transfer over everything on the backup, including data files, photos, and apps. Easy-peasy!

    One caveat: If you replace or reformat the hard drive on an existing computer, you must install macOS before running the migration assistant.

    Thanks again for all these fantastic tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your great advice to Annika. I know so little about Macs, just enough to get me by in my teaching. Lots of people love them. Merry Christmas, Grant. Hope it’s a great holiday season for you.


  5. Huh, we back up all the time, but I hadn’t heard of the imaging of a computer. I’m going to get my tech guy (ie, my guy) on this. My big new year’s gift will be a new laptop (but still using my PC for most of my blog/writing work). I’m worried/scared about how to transfer all my stuff from my PC into my laptop (because, let’s face it, – I’m whispering here – my PC is old and soon will need to be replaced, probably by the new laptop eventually….)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Annika,
    do you use the ‘Clean my Mac’ program? We use it on all our computers and run it once a week. Since we started this we don’t have any more problems with performance. We run TimeMachine once a month also but that’s for mirroring your system only.
    Good luck and have a relaxed holiday time
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Jacqui,
        I think everything is easier and more comfortable with a Mac. I changed from PC to Mac about ten years ago and I never regretted it. By the way I use for all my playing around just a MacBook that’s more than suffient for writing and layout. Dina as a photographer works with a big Mac destop and an iPad. As we both have iPhones as well, it’s so easy because of staying within the same system. But there is one exception: I still use Outlook, you can run this on a MacBook as well.
        Have a great holiday season
        Klausbernd and the rest of our gang
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Klausbernd! I have seen pop up ads for ‘Clean My Mac’ so I haven’t dared use this as I thought it was a virus programme. Where would I find it? The Time Machine runs constantly updating itself so I don’t think I need to do anything else with that!

      Wishing you all a wonderful break in Cley!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Annika,
        ‘Clean my Mac’ really cleans system trash etc. and keeps your Mac fast. I think every Mac user needs this program otherwise you accumulate such a lot of trash that it slows your computer drastically down. I run this once a week and every time it cleans about 3 gigabyte (I write only, email and blog), Dina working with Photoshop, Darkroom and other sophicated programes cleans about 6 gb and more weekly.
        You are right, an anti-virus program is integrated as well. But I run this hardly ever.

        Wishing you wonderful holiday season, lots of love, food, drink and gifts 😉
        Klausbernd and the rest of the gang
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Jacqui, are you sure you’re not looking over my shoulder? My computer is gradually slowing down and I’m beginning to despair! I definitely need some advice as I’m nervous of doing too much to it! “They allow you to jubilantly overcome rather than dramatically succumb.”

    I have an operating (pretty sure it is!) time machine on my Mac … what is the difference between this and imaging regarding starting a computer up from start again? Maybe a silly question but a bit confused!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annika. When you first set up Time Machine for mac, it takes a long time because it’s backing up everything on your primary hard drive. Thereafter, Time Machine performs incremental backups of the data that has changed. Time Machine does the incremental backups hourly unless you’ve set a different schedule.

      If the drive used for backups is getting full, Time Machine deletes the oldest files to make from room for the next incremental backup. As the drive gets full, it slows down the process.

      Fortunately, new backup drives are inexpensive (e.g., starting at approximately $45 US for a 1TB Toshiba drive available on Amazon), and that’s cheap insurance! When you shop for a backup drive, specify for a mac. If you get one set up for Windows, you must reformat using Apple’s disk utility. It’s a simple process. Those drives are usually less expensive than one pre-formatted for a mac, but that’s one more step to get ready for the first backup.

      Also, make sure the connecting cable is correct for your computer. The older ones are USB and the newer ones are USB-C. You can Google and see images of the one that’s right for your computer.

      You’ve got this!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Klausbernd and Grant have great suggestions. I’m not good with Macs so I will defer to them. I do have an amazing tech guru (who actually lives closer to you than me–in the UK) who answers all my tech problems. Not pushing him but if you feel the need, he’s over at We Build Your Blog ( I’ve worked with him for over a decade.

      Hugs to you. I know how frustrating this is!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grant, thank you so much for all your information and confidence in me! I checked the Time Machine and it’s only half full – so that shouldn’t be a problem! I have to check out the connection cable. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me and I will keep your website handy for the future!😀😀

        Liked by 1 person

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