GMT Solutions Guide to Backups by Emily Trenwith

Or how to save yourself a headache later!

What are backups?

In their simplest form, they are a backup is a copy of all your important data — business data, your family photos, e-mails, or anything else that you want to keep. It’s a great idea to keep a copy in a different place to the original, in case something happens.

Why should I backup?

Trust us, we’re the experts! Every week we see people who have had a problem with their computer and have not backed up their files. We try our hardest to get your data back but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Even something as simple as losing your phone or camera can be very annoying – if you’d backed them up, you’d still have all your pictures, contacts etc.  Losing your files is far more common than you’d think. One small accident or failure could destroy all the important stuff you care about.

  • 30 % of people have never backed up
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute*
  • 29% of disasters are caused by accident
  • 1 in 10 computers get viruses each month

*2017 stats


Android phone/tablet

Google has a brilliant setting to automatically backup your phone. If you then

lose it or upgrade it, it puts all your stuff right back where you want it.

To set this up:

  1. Go to Settings, System, Backup and reset, and turn on both Backup my data and Automatic restore. This setting is sometimes under Settings, Personal.
  2. Go to Settings, Personal, Accounts, and select your Google account.
  3. Select all the option boxes listed, to ensure that all available data is synced.
  4. This will back up your app data, Google calendar, Chrome data and Contacts – other things may be listed depending on what Android version you are running.
  5. Go to the Photos app and select the left-hand menu, then Settings, Backup & sync.
  6. Check that this is turned on and that all device folders you wish to backup are checked – photos you take are automatically backed up, but you can also backup Instagram and Facebook photos etc.

This does all the basics, but as I’ve got business data on my phone, I like to back up everything, including text messages, which Google don’t currently backup. To do this I use an app called G Cloud, which comes with some free cloud storage space – you may wish to purchase more space for your backup, depending on how many files you have or how full your phone is.


You have two choices for your Apple devices – backup with iCloud (on the internet) or iTunes (on your computer). Or you could even do both! Bear in mind that if you use iTunes and your computer has a problem, you then have no backup until you back up your phone again.

Back up to cloud


  1. Connect your device to Wi-Fi
  2. Go to Settings > [your name] and tap iCloud. If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings, then scroll down and tap iCloud.
  3. Tap iCloud Backup. If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap Backup. Make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on.
  4. Tap Back Up Now. Stay connected to your Wi-Fi network until the process completes.
  5. Make sure that the backup finished: Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Storage > Manage Storage, then select your device. If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, then select your device. The backup should appear in the details with the time and backup size.


  1. Open iTunes and connect your device to your computer.
  2. If a message asks for your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  3. Select your iPhone, iPad, or iPod when it appears in iTunes.
  4. If you want to save Health and Activity data from your iOS device or Apple Watch, you need to encrypt your backup: Select the box called Encrypt [device] backup and create a memorable password. Write down your password and store it somewhere safe, because there’s no way to recover your iTunes backups without this password.
  5. If you don’t need to save your Health and Activity data, you can make a backup that isn’t encrypted. Just click Back Up Now.
  6. After the process ends, you can see if your backup finished successfully in iTunes Preferences > Devices. (If you’re using iTunes for Windows, choose Edit > Devices from the menu bar at the top of the iTunes window.) You should see the name of your device with the date and time that iTunes created the backup.


What would you miss if your computer were to stop working tomorrow? What you choose to backup is up to you – but we recommend at a minimum, your documents and photos, including any schoolwork if relevant. There are two simple ways of doing this:

File copy

If you don’t use your computer a lot, you can periodically copy everything to a USB flash drive or external hard drive. You could also use an online service such as Dropbox – just select your Dropbox folder rather than your USB drive. You will need to remember to do this however, so you may want to set a reminder in your phone or calendar.

  1. Open File Explorer and click on This PC in the left-hand menu. You will see a list of folders at the top of the window.
  2. To check the size of the backup (and how much space you will need on your USB drive), right-click on each folder that you would like to backup and choose Properties. This will show you the folder size – add them all together to find out how much space you need.
  3. Once you have done this, select Documents, Pictures and anything else you would like to backup. To select multiple folders, you can hold down the Ctrl key whilst clicking on each one. Then press Ctrl + C to copy (or right-hand click on the folders selected and choose Copy).
  4. Plug your USB drive in, and open it up
  5. Press Ctrl + V to paste, or right-click in the USB drive and choose Paste.
  6. Check that everything has copied over – this may take some time if you have a large amount of data.

Windows File History

Windows File History will back up to a USB drive at a frequency that you select. It keeps multiple copies of files and backs up as you are working. It does mean you need to keep

your USB drive plugged in, however.

  1. Go to the Control Panel, view all items then click on File History
  2. Plug in your USB drive (you can’t set it up without it) and click the Turn on button at the bottom
  3. By default, it backs up from your Libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, Video), Desktop, Contacts and Favourites
  4. You can use the links on the left to choose your USB drive if you have more than one, or amend what is backed up
  5. To exclude folders, if you don’t want to back up your music folder for example, click the Exclude folders link, press the Add button, then select the folder to exclude. This will NOT be included in your backup
  6. The Advanced settings link lets you change how often your files are backed up (every hour is the default setting) and how long to keep the versions. If you select Forever, your USB drive will eventually fill up, but you will be prompted to clean up old versions at that point.
  7. That’s it – if your USB drive is plugged into your PC, it will keep your files safe. You may want to remember to take the USB drive home with you on a Friday however, or keep one at work and one at home then rotate them. If your office PC was stolen with the backup USB attached, you’ve then lost your original copy and the backup!

Don’t forget to test your backups – they’re only useful if they work to restore your files!


If you have a few computers but no server, then you could use the methods above to backup. Make sure that any important business folders are selected, especially if they are not located in your Documents folder.  You may want to consider an online backup service instead.

Online Backup

Your other option is an online service such as Backblaze, Dropbox, Google Drive, iDrive or one of many others. These services usually come with a software application that you can set up, to choose what to backup and how often.

As the backup is kept in the cloud (a fancy way of saying on the internet!) you don’t need to worry about keeping a copy off site – it will be safe even if you lost all your IT equipment. You can expect to pay a small monthly or yearly fee for this, which will vary between services. Some charge by the amount of space used, some charge a flat fee per user. Most will give you a certain amount of free space or a free trial, to make sure it will work for you. If you’re not sure which one to pick, or need help setting it up, give us a call and we’ll have a chat to see what would suit you best.

Don’t forget about your e-mail (if not using a cloud service such as Microsoft 365) and your website too.  And again, don’t forget to test your backups – they’re only useful if they work to restore your files!


If you’ve got a few more computers and perhaps a storage server, then we’d strongly suggest having both an onsite AND an offsite backup. This will work out a little more expensive – but imagine the cost to your business if you were to lose all your computers, or even just one. Would you be able to recreate your accounts, client data and other information? What would happen if you no longer had access to your business premises due to flood for example? An offsite backup would be essential in this situation and would get you back up and running quickly.

The setup that we recommend is having a NAS or network attached storage in your office, which your computers backup to, and which is then backed up to the cloud. The cost will vary, depending on how much space you need, but this can be scaled to suit your business.

This can be complemented by a cloud backup, for the offsite component – we would suggest using a more robust business service for this rather than the ones we recommended earlier, depending on the amount of data you have that needs backing up.

These all tend to charge per amount of storage used – the price per GB can be fractions of a penny but bear in mind that if you have 1TB of data to backup, you’ll need to multiply this rate by 1000.

You want something that is tailored to you, so why not give us a call for a chat? We offer free consultations so tell how your business works, and make sure you get the right solution for you.

  • Remember that your backups are only any good if they work! Whether it’s one USB stick or a dedicated server, make sure you test your backup regularly. Otherwise, if the worst were to happen and you find your storage had filled up months ago, you might find essential files missing.
  • Check you have enough space for your backups, whether on USB or cloud storage
  • If your backup keeps giving an error message, try closing your e-mail program before running it. E-mail databases often can’t be backed up while they are still open.
  • Remember to back up phones and other mobile devices as they often contain important contact numbers
  • If you’d like to talk about any of this or book us to set up your backup system, please get in touch. Let us know how you get on, or if you’ve got an unusual method that works for you!

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions about backup or any other IT matters, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] or via our website

Avatar for Pippa Haines Pippas Web

I am Pippa and I have run Pippas Web - web design for small businesses for 13 years. I help small business owners find their bit of cyberspace. I provide the technical know-how, so they can get back to running their business. If you like what I write in my blogs, you can sign up to my newsletter for more tips straight to your door. All list members get a copy of "How to get your business seen online in 2021".