To protect the data on your personal computers, we recommend using a combination of Google Drive and Acronis True Image.
Part 1. Using Google Drive
You can use Google Drive Backup & Sync to continuously backup your folders to Google Cloud.
At the time of writing, Google offers 15GB for free with a Google account. You can buy additional storage from Google, currently priced at $19.99/year for 100GB, $29.99/year for 200GB, and $99/year for 2TB).
The main advantage of copying files to Google Cloud is that you’ll be able to access those backed up files and documents from any computer with an Internet connection without requiring any special software other than an Internet browser.
To use Google Drive you will need to have a Gmail account. You can sign up for free.
We strongly recommend the activation of 2-factor authentication (2-step verification) for your Google account. It’s especially important if you end up storing personal information on Google Cloud.
With 2-factor authentication, to login and access your Google account you will need to enter a one-time, single-use code generated in real-time, in addition to your user ID and password.
Using hardware keys like Yubikey is the most secure way to perform 2-factor authentication. You can also use the Google Authenticator app on your mobile device (iOS, Android). We recommend activation of both — the hardware key and Google Authenticator, so that if one of them (your mobile device or the hardware key) is lost, you will still be able to use the remaining device.
Another option is to add your mobile phone number for receiving one-time codes as a text message (however it is not as secure as using a hardware device like Yubikey or Google Authenticator app — given that someone can duplicate your SIM card and use it to receive SMS messages with the codes).
At this time it will also be good to generate an application password that will be used for sending Acronis notifications (which we will describe in Part 2 below).
- Download Google Drive Backup & Sync software and install it on your computer. It will place an icon on your taskbar.
- Click on the icon and it will prompt you to sign in with your Google Account.
- Select Folders on your computer that you want to automatically backup to Google Cloud.
- Select Google Drive Folders that you want to automatically sync to the local disk (this is totally optional).
- Press the ‘Start’ button.
For businesses we recommend signing up for Google Workspace and using Shared Drives with Google Drive File Stream software.
Part 2. Using Acronis True Image
While Google Drive Backup and Sync is a good option to continuously backup individual files and folders, we recommend creating a copy of your entire hard disk, so that you can restore the disk with the operating system and with all the software and applications installed on your computer in case your computer gets lost or stolen, or if you hard disk gets corrupted.
Acronis True Image is a good option to capture a snapshot of your entire disk on an external USB drive. For example, if your hard disk gets corrupted, you will be able to buy a new disk, and restore the original snapshot of your computer using the Acronis backup.
The software pricing at the time of writing is $59.99 for 1 computer, $89.99 for 3 computers, and $119 for 5 computers. It’s a good idea to sign up for an Acronis ID so that you can download the software and copy the license keys anytime you need to install Acronis software on a new computer, or re-install it on your existing computer.
For computers running Windows OS, we recommend that you save your Windows license key so you can activate the Windows OS license in case you need to restore your backup on a new hard disk. To obtain the license key, open your Command Prompt (by typing ‘command’ on the Windows Start menu or in the Search box) and click ‘Run as Administrator’
Then enter the following command:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
and press Enter. It will display a key, which you can copy to a Google Doc.
Follow these steps to backup the entire system:
- Click on the ‘Destination’ icon
- Select ‘Browse’
- Highlight the USB drive where you want to store the backup, then press OK
- Click on the link ‘Encrypt backup’ and enter a secure password
- Click on the ‘Backup Source’ icon
- Select ‘Disks and Partitions’
- Select the disks that need to be backed up (Select Disk C and other disks as needed, such any Recovery partition, except the USB drive that is used as destination)
- Click on the Options button
- Check ‘Do not schedule’ on the Schedule tab
- Open the ‘Backup Scheme’ tab and select ‘Custom scheme’
- Select Backup Method: Full, then press OK
- Press the green ‘Backup Now’ button
You can repeat this process each time you want to take a snapshot of your computer. For example, after installing new software — to make sure that you can restore all installed apps at any time, or on a periodic (e.g., weekly) basis.
If your computer has an SD card reader, you can keep an SD card inserted and configure the app to automatically copy specific folders (e.g., with your documents, pictures, etc.) to the SD card every hour.
- Click on the ‘Change Destination’ icon
- Click on the ‘Browse…’ item
- Select the disk allocated for the SD card, then press OK
- Click on the ‘Encrypt Backup’ link and enter a secure password
- Click on the ‘Change Source’ icon
- Click on the ‘Files and Folders’ item
- Place a checkmark on the folders that you need to backup to the SD card, then press OK
- Click on the Options button
- On the ‘Schedule’ tab select desired frequency (e.g., Daily Every 1 hour)
- Open the ‘Backup Scheme’ tab
- Select Incremental as a ‘Backup method’
- Check the Radio Button for Create a full version after every 6 incremental versions (or higher number if needed)
- Click on the link ‘Turn on automatic cleanup’
- Select ‘Keep size of the backup no more than’ and enter the number of Gigabytes you need to allocate for your backups (e.g., 60% of the disk capacity).
- Open the ‘Notifications’ tab and check all the boxes
- Enter your email address where you’d like to receive notifications about the backup outcomes
- Enter smtp.gmail.com in the Outgoing mail server (SMTP)
- Enter port 587
- Set Encryption to TLS
- Check the SMTP authentication box
- Enter your Gmail address
- Enter the app password that you generated earlier in Part 1
- Press OK
To backup your frequently changed files and folders, we recommend using a combination of Google Drive Backup and Sync and Acronis True Image.
Google Drive Backup and Sync software will continue to upload the files and folders each time there are changes. It’s good to keep in mind that some data may not get backed up in time to Google Drive if an issue with Internet connectivity is encountered.
To protect against that risk, you can also backup your frequently changed files and folders to a local SD card (which you can keep inserted in your computer at all times) using Acronis True Image. It can be configured to run every hour to copy the content changed since the previous backup.
To create a copy of your entire computer disks with all the OS settings and configurations, and all your software applications, you can periodically use Acronis True Image to create full backups on an external USB drive, illustrated below.