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How to Automatically Backup Files to An External Hard Drive | 3 Ways

Updated by Tracy King on Apr 27, 2021
Written by Brithny

What is the best strategy to retain your computer data from a severe system crash, hardware failure, or virus attack? Creating a full backup of your computer data is the best way out.

Also, note that the most recommended way is to create a regular backup plan, automatically backup files to an external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7 computers. Here, we collected 3 backup tools to protect your files from various disasters effectively:

Backup and Restore vs. File History vs. Windows Backup Software

Which method to choose? Backup and Restore, File History or Windows Backup Software? Some of you may have the same question here, which backup tool should I choose?

Here, we listed a brief comparison table to help you decide which tool suits you the most:

Windows Backup Software Windows Backup and Restore File History
  • Back up files, folders, hard drive partition
  • Back up OS and applications
  • Back up files, folders, hard drive partition
  • Back up OS.
Back up files and folders under C:/ user folder.
Support Windows 10/8/7, Windows XP, and Vista Support Windows 10/7 Support Windows 8/10

Editor's Pick: For the easiest method, take Windows backup software as your first choice as it's easy and efficient in file backup. 

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Let's see how to automatically back up files to an external hard drive with the 3 mentioned tools now. 

Method 1. Automatically Backup Files to External Hard Drive via Windows Backup and Restore

Pros: Free, and portable. Cons: Huge image size, nearly the same as the source files.

Windows Backup and Restore (Windows 7) program is a native tool that allows you to set up a backup plan to automatically back up files, hard drive partition, even including a system image, to an external hard drive based on a fixed time interval. 

Tutorial: How to Set Up Backup Plan to Auto Back Up Files to External Hard Drive

Prerequisite: Keep the external hard drive connected to your computer all the time. 

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

Step 2. Click "Change settings", select the external hard drive ("Removable Disk") to save a backup, and click "Next".

Select external hard drive as backup destination

Step 3. Then click "Let me choose" and "Next" to specify files that you need to back up.  Click "Next".

Select files to automatically back up to external drive

Step 4. Click "Change schedule", set to run the backup task on a schedule by daily, weekly, or monthly, and click "OK".

Set up auto backup plan

Step 5. Click "Set settings and run backup". 

Wait patiently to let Windows Backup and Restore complete the process. 

Method 2. How to Automatically Backup Files to External Disk With Windows File History

Pros: Free, and fast. Cons: Huge image size, can't back up non-system drive files.

Like Windows Backup and Restore, Windows File History is another built-in tool that allows you to create an automatic backup plan of specific files on computers. However, this tool can only backup C drive files, including Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Music, Downloads, OneDrive, etc.

Tutorial: How to Automatically Back Up Files to an External Hard Drive via File History

Prerequisite: Always keep your external hard drive connected to the PC.

Step 1. Open Control Panel, select "File History".

Step 2. Click "Select drive" on the File History window.

Step 3. Select your external hard drive "Removable disk" and click "OK" to continue.

Select external hard drive to automaticlly backup files

Step 4. Click "Advanced Settings", you can set how often to save copies of your files by minutes, hours, or daily.

Set up back up plan

Step 6. Click "Run now".

File History will automatically back up all folders under C: /Users/account name to your external hard drive.

Method 3. Auto Backup Files to External Hard Drive Using Windows Backup Software

Pros: Fast, simple, small image size, and portable.  Cons: Not 100% free.

Compared to Backup and Restore and File History, Windows backup software like EaseUS Todo Backup is easier for beginners to back up everything on their computers to an external hard drive. Specific individual files, whole hard drive partition, or even the OS and applications, can all be backed up automatically. 

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Support Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP

Here, EaseUS backup software two options to help you automatically backup files to an external hard drive:

#1. Automatically Backup Files to External HDD by Daily, Weekly, or Monthly

Prerequisite: Connect the external hard drive connected to the computer all the time.


  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  • Download EaseUS Todo Backup

Step 1. Launch EaseUS backup software and choose the File option on the main window.

click file bakup to back up files to external hard drive

Step 2. Select the files or folders you want to backup. Then click "Destination" to select the external hard drive as the backup storage location.

You can also enter "Plan name" and "Description" for specifying your file backup.

set the destination to save your backup


Click "File Type" if you want to specify certain types of files to backup. Here, multiple types of files including Documents Files, E-mail, Financial Files, Music Files, Picture Files, and Video Files, etc can be selected. 

select the file type

You can also click Add to add a new file type, in Add New Type window, you input Type Name and corresponding file type.

Step 3. Click the "Schedule" option to open the Backup Scheme window, here you can create a scheduled backup plan to backup files later, daily, weekly, monthly or upon event.

automatically back up files

The schedule is to create an automatic backup plan. It is not a prerequisite for backup. 

Step 4. Click "Proceed" to back up folders or files to the external hard drive.

#Option 2. Automatically Back Up Files to External Disk When Plugged In

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Support Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP


  • Connect your USB to your computer
  • Download EaseUS Todo Backup

Step 1. Launch EaseUS backup software and choose "File" on the window to make USB auto copy files when plugged in.

click file backup

Step 2. Decide a backup image location to save your files. Be aware of the "Schedule" part, and go to start a scheduled backup plan by setting "Upon event".

choose a location to save data

Upon event

The backup is to be automatically executed in the event of:

  • System startup - Backup runs automatically when the system starts up.
  • System shutdown - Backup runs automatically when the system is shut down.
  • User logon - Backup runs automatically when Windows logs in.
  • User logoff - Backup runs automatically when Windows logs off.
  • USB device plugged in - Backup runs automatically when the USB device is plugged in provided that it is set to be the destination.

Step 3. Choose start at "USB device plugged in..." and click "Save". Note the warning message, the automatic backup or copying will only happen to the exact device on which you created the task.

set a schedual to start to back up to usb automatically.

Step 4. After saving all changes, re-plug or reconnect your USB drive. Then when your computer recognizes the USB drive, the automatic copying and backup process starts.

Note: every new automatic backup plan requires the backup image saved at the last time, or else the backup software won't work as planned even it detects the same USB device.

You can also use this feature to automatically backup to USB drive when plugged in.

It's Your Turn. Take Steps to Automatically Back Up Your Files Now

On this page, we showed you the best strategy for protecting your personal data in Windows 10/8/7. And we collected 3 tools to help you out: 1. Backup and Restore; 2. File History; 3. Windows Backup Software. Which one to pick?

Here is Editor's Suggestion:
To back up the most files on your computer, EaseUS Todo Backup with its schedule backup feature seems to be the easiest and most efficient solution.
  Free Download

Support Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP

No matter which tool you decide to use, take action to automatically back up your valuable files now.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. On her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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TrustScore 4.7 | 47 reviews
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