Windows 11 Backup to External Hard Drive Guide [3-Minutes Solution]

Are you looking for a full resolution to execute Windows 11 backup to external hard drive? There are three solutions to backup Windows 11 to an external hard drive: Windows 11 backup and restore, Windows 11 backup software, and Windows 11 file history. This page will show you how to efficiently backup Windows 11 to an external hard drive with success.

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Updated by Jean on Feb 22, 2023
Written by Larissa

You should regularly backup your computer's primary hard drive's contents, including all your files and folders, to an external hard drive or the cloud. On a computer running Windows 11, backup to an external hard drive can be executed in various forms.

We advise adhering to the "Rule of Three" (sometimes known as the "3-2-1 Rule"), which states that you should make three copies of your files, backup two of them to different external mediums (hard drive, cloud), and then remove one document from the premises.

More and more people need to store various types of files and data. However, as we are all aware, the risk of data loss increases with the amount of data. Therefore, to prevent data loss, creating a backup of your data is crucial.

So, why should you use an external hard drive as a backup for your files? It's one of the best ways to secure your data if you suddenly face system failure or a virus has engulfed your system. You'll be at peace knowing that your data is safe.

The following explanations on how to create backups with different solutions, are outlined in this article:

  • Backup and Restore  
  • Backup Software
  • File History

Knowing the many backup options available to you today allows you to choose the one that best meets your needs. Whichever form of backup you decide to execute, the process is simple. Keep this tab open to back up your data and follow these instructions. We'll discuss how to conduct and recover them in this article. For more information, go to the sections below.

How Do I Backup Windows 11 to An External Hard Drive

How do I backup my Windows 11 computer to an external hard drive? This is a common question asked by users and the answer is really easy!

Here, we have listed three ways that you can use to back up files to an external hard drive in Windows 11. You can use the Windows built-in program or reliable backup software. We'll then go through each of the three approaches with you. Possible solutions are given below to backup Windows 11 to an external hard drive.

Solution 1. Windows 11 backup and restore

Solution 2. Windows 11 backup software

Solution 3. Windows 11 file history

Let's introduce these solutions with their pros and cons.

Solution 1. Windows 11 Backup and Restore

The first method involves using Windows 11 Backup and Restore, built-in settings, to backup and restore files. Data files saved in libraries, desktop, and primary Windows directories will all be backed up, as per schedule. Your complete system, including the operating system, programs, and settings, can also be created as a backup image.

Solution 2. Windows 11 Backup Software

You can see that Windows doesn't provide users much control over the backup directories from the one built-in backup strategy described above for version 11 of Windows. What happens if the user wishes to backup directories in addition to those listed above? EaseUS Todo Backup is suggested in this scenario.

Including any folders in the backup plan is the standout feature of EaseUS Todo Backup. Additionally, you can back up your files to a network disk, cloud storage, external drive, or local drive. Simply put, it is more capable and allows users to configure the file backup schedule completely than the built-in backup application.

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Solution 3. Windows 11 File History

The third approach involves backing up files using File History, a feature of Windows 11. It frequently backs up the files in the desktop, documents, music, photographs, and video folders. You will eventually have several backup copies, and you can restore the original files if they are lost, damaged, or erased.

Solutions Pros Cons
Windows 11 Backup and Restore

It gives you direct access to your Backup. Keeps essential information on-site. Your information is not accessible to anybody else. Access to data does not require an Internet connection.

There are no uptime or recovery time promises. Requires significant capital expenditure for infrastructure and hardware.

Windows 11 Backup Software

Mac OS version is accessible. Cloud storage options are also accessible, even if they are free.

Rather slow speed when creating photos lack of comprehensive system failure information

Windows 11 File History

It operates by routinely automatically backing each folder location you've chosen. You can modify the number of saved versions you want to maintain and how frequently your files are kept.

You must first place other files into one of the specific folders that File History has chosen as its default selection if you want to secure them.

Editor's Pick: We suggest using the backup software EaseUS Todo Backup, as it is more user-friendly for Windows 11 beginners and does everything automatically.

Windows 11 Backup to External Hard Drive via Backup & Restore

It backs up desktop, primary Windows directories, and data files saved in libraries. Additionally, it can build a backup image of your complete system, including the operating system, programs, and settings.

Windows 11 does not give you an option of backing up via external drive, only OnDrive backup is available. 

Find out how to backup your PC to an external hard drive in Windows 11, with the steps listed below:

Step 1. Select "Backup and Restore" under System and Security in the Control Panel. The interface of the Control Panel is like the old-fashioned Windows 7 days.

system security

Step 2. Under "Backup," choose the "Set up Backup option".

set up backup

Step 3. Type your admin password if prompted after selecting your backup drive. 

backup to save

Step 4. Click 'Next' after selecting 'Let Windows Choose.' Users' files, including those kept in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows directories, will be backed up.

let windows choose

Step 5. Click the Save Settings buttons and Run Backup.

change schedule

Additional suggestion: How to Use Backup and Restore to Restore the Backup

If you lose any files, you can recover them using the following steps:

Step 1. Select "Backup and Restore under Settings" then click "Update & Security".

Step 2. Click the Restore my files button in the "Restore" section.

restore my files

Step 3. To choose the folders from the Backup that you wish to restore, click the 'Browse for folders' button. Click Next to begin the restoration procedure after selecting Folders.

choose a different date

  • Browse for files: Click Add Files to add the files you want to restore.
  • Browse for folders: Click Add Folder to add the folders you want to restore.
  • Search to add files: Use a straight search to find the file or folder you want to add.

Windows 11 Backup to External Hard Drive via Backup Software

Your immediate demands for data backup and recovery can be satisfied by Windows 11 Backup and Restore. But it lacks differential backup capabilities and is unable to back up systems. Use EaseUS Todo Backup as an alternative to Windows 11 Backup and Restore to secure your data better. It is a specialized backup program that lets you partition and clone disks in Windows 11 and creates a system, disk, file, and partition backups.

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You will know how to use it by following the steps below:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup on your computer, and click Create Backup on the home screen and then hit the big question mark to select backup contents.

backup outlook mail step1

Step 2. To back up your Windows operating system, click "OS" to begin the backup task.

backup outlook mail step2

Step 3. Your Windows operating system information and all system related files and partitions will be automatically selected so you don't need to do any manual selection at this step. Next, you'll need to choose a location to save the system image backup by clicking the illustrated area.

system backup

Step 4. The backup location can be another local drive on your computer, an external hard drive, network, cloud or NAS. Generally, we recommend you use an external physical drive or cloud to preserve the system backup files. 

backup outlook mail step4

Step 5. Customiztion settings like enabling an automatic backup schedule in daily, weekly, monthly, or upon an event, and making a differential and incremental backup are available in the Options button if you're interested. Click "Backup Now", and the Windows system backup process will begin. The completed backup task will display on the left side in a card style.

backup outlook mail step 5

Additionally, this program includes a ton of other functions that Backup and Restore does not, including:

  • Differential and Incremental Backup: To conserve time and storage space, only back up updated or new files.
  • Backup Plan: Automatically back up your files on the schedule you previously established.
  • Pause and Resume: You can pause the backup procedure for a while and resume it later.
  • Backup options: Permit you to split the backup image into smaller files and compress it.

Cloud data backup is possible with Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Windows 11 Backup to External Hard Drive via File History

The third approach involves backing up files using File History, a feature of Windows 11. It frequently backs up the files in the desktop, documents, music, photographs, and video folders. You will eventually have several backup copies. You can restore the original files if they are lost, damaged, or erased. The steps are listed below:

Step 1. Initialize the process by first attaching an external hard disk. Open the Backup Options window under System then click Storage. Click Advanced storage settings. Next, select "Add a drive" from the Back up using the File History menu.

add a drive

Step 2. Enable the "Automatically back up my files" option by clicking "on."

automatically backup my files

Step 3. After that, you can choose "More options" to set the frequency, duration, and types of backups that File History keeps.

  • Backup my files: File History automatically backs up your files once every hour by default, but you can adjust this setting. Several options are available, ranging from 10 minutes to 24 hours.
  • Keep my backups: By default, this option is configured to keep backups indefinitely, but you can adjust it so that they are kept for one month to two years before being deleted.
  • Back up these folders: Click "Add Folder" to add additional folders to your Backup by viewing the complete list of folders in this window. Additionally, you can pick a folder here and click the "Delete" option to stop Windows from making a backup of it.

backup these folders

Step 4. Save and depart when finished. Next, select "Backup now". When you connect the drive to your computer, Windows 11 will automatically backup your files.

Extra suggestion: How to Use File History to Restore the Backup

The steps listed below can be used to restore files from your external disk using File History:

Step 1. Return to File History's Backup choices box and click the bottom option labeled "Restore files from a current backup."

Step 2. Use the left or right arrows below to find the backup version you want to restore. Additionally, you can use the search bar to browse the files.

Step 3. Select "Restore" from the menu. Alternatively, click the gear symbol and choose "Restore to."

home file history


  • Please click the restore option below to return to the original place.
  • Click the gear icon, choose "Restore to," and select the new place you want to restore.

Bonus Tip: Windows 11 Automatic Backup Solution

You may back up your computer data, and hard drive partition files automatically on Windows 11 and even Windows Server computers by setting up a routine backup plan.

You might consider using File History to set up a scheduled backup on your computer—flexible backup plans for specific days or a scheduled event. Utilizing effective backup schedule backup software is a quick and practical approach to doing an automatic backup assignment for your files!

You have a second chance to immediately restore your data once your data is lost or the computer crashes if you regularly backup personal files, critical data, and even certain encrypted information on your computer.

How then do you set up a scheduled backup? The best Windows schedule backup program for 2022 is EaseUS Todo Backup, which you should try out.

To Wrap Up

In this article, we have discussed Windows 11 backup to external hard drives. We have mentioned three possible solutions with easy guidelines. We can recommend the best solution, EaseUS Todo Backup, the software that has solutions to every backup need, and it is easier among all. It offers scheduled automatic Backup. So, download it today and back up and restore your essential data without wasting any time.

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FAQs about Backup Windows 11 to External Hard Drive

If you still have doubts, read the answers to further questions to understand better.

1. Does Windows 11 have a backup program?

In Windows 11, you can back up with built-in Backup & Restore, and File History. Besides that, you can also use OneDrive or use third-party software for backup.

2. What happened to Windows backup in Windows 11?

Although Windows 11 still contains the Backup and Restore tool with the opportunity to save a system image of the full system to external storage, you can always use third-party local and cloud solutions.

3. How do you backup everything on a computer to an external hard drive?

To back up to a network site or external drive, use File History. To access a backup, go to Start, press Settings-Click Update & Security, and then press Backup. Select an external drive or network location for your backups after adding a drive.

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Updated by Jean

Since graduating from university, Jean has been writing tech articles and has been a valuable member of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her areas of expertise include data recovery, disk partitioning, data backup, and multimedia world.

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Written by Larissa

Larissa has rich experience in writing technical articles. After joining EaseUS, she frantically learned about data recovery, disk partitioning, data backup, and other related knowledge. Now she is able to master the relevant content proficiently and write effective step-by-step guides on computer issues.

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  • Taking everything into consideration, we can say that EaseUS Todo Backup Home can offer you a little extra sense of security with a set of advanced tools. The interface provides quick adaptation, every process guiding you all the way through so you don't get stuck or further damage your system rather than keeping it safe.

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