Oregon State University

Backing Data Up

Backing up data is an essential part of keeping your data safe. It is often overlooked and avoided by people until they lose a very important set of documents like photos they only have one copy of, their final paper, research documentation, or even their thesis. If you have learned your lesson and have decided to back up or want to avoid learning the lesson all together, below is a good starting point to keeping copies of your data.

An external hard drive is required for each of the methods provided since it is one of the most reliable methods.

For university-owned devices, it's highly recommend you contact your IT team (e.g. Community Network/COSINe customers).


For windows machines, we recommend the built in Microsoft Backup tool named 'File History'. It can be found by doing the following:

  1. Make sure the external hard drive is plugged in and recognized
  2. Press the windows key
  3. Do a search for 'File history'
  4. Turn on file history (it is turned off by default)
  5. Choose the external hard drive as the location to back up to

Only information in My Desktop/Libraries/Contacts/Pictures/Videos/Favorites will be saved, so make sure to not save anywhere else or it will not be backed up.

Mac OS X

For Mac OSX machines, we recommend time machine, which is the built in backup and restore software.

  1. Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu. Or choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  2. Click Select Backup Disk.
  3. Select an external hard drive, then click Use Disk.
  4. After you choose a backup disk, optionally click “Add or Remove Backup Disk” to add more backup disks for extra security and convenience.

After you set up Time Machine, it automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup drive is full.

More information can be found here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250

Need help?

Contact the Service Desk at 541-737-8787

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