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how to backup your files to a USB stick.

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Always, always, back up your most important files. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to use a USB stick/drive.

Computers are absolutely brilliant at storing files. Documents, pictures, music, videos etc. They're so good in fact, that we'll often forget that a computer is just a machine.

And machines go wrong.

When that happens, when our stuff is no longer available to us, that's when it comes home to us, just how much data we've got on the PC.

It's now that having a backup of your files comes into it's own. It's an insurance policy. Hopefully, you'll never need it, but if you do....

In this guide, we're going to copy our most important files, the ones we couldn't do without, and save them onto a USB stick.

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    backing up files to a USB stick.

    To demonstrate how to backup your files, in this guide, I'll back up my Pictures folder to a USB drive.

    To get started, when you first plug your USB drive into your computer, 1 of 3 things could happen.

    It all depends on how your PC is set up.

    The first thing that might happen when you plug in your USB stick, is that you'll see this notification pop up.

    If you do, left click on it.

    click on the notification.

    The notification doesn't hang around for very long, so you'll have to be quick.

    Also, it doesn't show up on everyone's computer, it all depends on how your machine is set up.

    If you weren't quick enough, or the notification simply didn't appear, no worries, we'll tackle that next.

    After clicking the notification in the lower right corner, an options menu will open.

    Click the option to OPEN FOLDERS TO VIEW FILES.

    This option will open the USB stick in File Explorer.


    The second thing that might happen, is that you don't get any notification at all.

    Or, you might get the notification and miss it. It pops up and disappears too quickly for you to click on.

    Either way, the thing to do is to click File Explorer on your Taskbar.

    file explorer.

    When File Explorer opens, you should be able to see your USB drive.

    If you can't, click THIS PC in the left hand panel.

    USB stick in file explorer.

    And the third thing that might happen to you, is the USB stick might just open automatically.

    It just pops up on your screen.

    If that happens, great, your ready to go.

    the USB drive just pops open.

    What actually happens on your machine will vary, depending on how you've got it set up.

    The main thing here, is that no matter what happens to you, we're all now in File Explorer.

    Plugging in your USB stick.


    backing up a folder to USB stick.

    Now that we're all in File Explorer, we can start backing up our stuff.

    As an example, I'm going to back up my Pictures folder, but this works exactly the same if you back up your Documents folder, Music folder or what ever.

    In the left hand panel of File Explorer, I need to find my Pictures folder.

    But if you were backing up your Documents folder, you'd look for your Documents folder in the left hand panel, and if you were backing up your video folder, well you get the idea.

    You may have to scroll up or down or click the small arrowhead beside THIS PC to find it, but it'll be there somewhere.

    find the pictures folder.

    Once you've found the Pictures folder (or whichever folder it is your saving), right click on it.

    A menu will open.

    Left click once on COPY.

    That'll tell the computer to copy the entire Pictures folder.

    Everything inside it.

    Now we need to Paste it all into our USB stick.

    click COPY.

    Still in the left hand panel, find your USB drive.

    Again, if you can't see it, left click the small arrowhead by THIS PC.

    When you've found it, right click on it.

    On the menu that opens, left click PASTE.

    click PASTE.

    You might see a progress bar appear.

    You might not, it all depends on how much data your transferring to the USB stick.

    the progress bar.

    The last thing to do is to check on the USB stick that the files have actually been backed up.

    So while we're still in Explorer, double left click on your USB drive and you should see whatever files/folders you saved there.

    safe at last.

    That's my Pictures folder backed up to my USB stick.

    I could easily do the same for my Documents folder, or any other folder.

    I'm sorry, this video isn't ready yet.


    backing up a single file to a USB stick.

    So that was pretty painless. But what if you only want to backup a single file that's on your Desktop. Or maybe in your Documents folder.

    Whenever we're doing anything like this, saving files onto a USB stick, the big question is always, "How do I start".

    Once you get going it's simply a matter of copying the files/folders you want and then pasting them onto the stick.

    So we'll begin from the desktop.

    I've got my USB stick plugged in, and I've just backed up my Pictures folder.

    Now I want to add a couple of files from my Desktop to the stick.

    I don't want to save the entire Desktop folder, just the 2 files.

    Left click once on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.

    backup these 2 files.

    The files I'm backing up are on my Desktop, so in the left hand panel, I'll click Desktop.

    If you had files in your Documents folder to back up, you'd click Documents.

    And for Videos, you'd click Videos folder etc.

    click desktop.

    After clicking Desktop, the right hand panel shows everything on my Desktop.

    Now I need to find the 2 files I want to backup.

    When I find them, I'll select them both.

    back up these 2.

    Now right click on 1 of the selected files.

    The options menu will open.

    Left click COPY.

    click copy.

    And now it's back to the USB stick.

    Find it in the left hand pane, then right click it to open the options menu.

    From the menu, left click PASTE.

    click PASTE.

    This works whether your backing up a single file, a folder, multiple files/folders or a combination of both.

    Find what your looking for, copy it, then go back to the USB drive and paste it.

    I'm sorry, this video isn't ready yet.


    What If The Files/Folders Are Already Backed Up To The USB Drive.

    Occasionally we'll try to save files onto our USB drive that are already there.

    That's when this message pops up and we hit the panic button.

    Something's gone wrong. What could it be?

    Windows will usually warn you if your duplicating files on your USB stick.

    Normally you'd just click SKIP THESE FILES.

    normally, click SKIP THESE FILES.

    But nothing's "wrong". All the computer is saying is

    "Hey boss, did you know you've already got these files (these pictures, these documents etc) on your USB stick? What do you want me to do? Should I delete them and then copy them over again, or should I skip this job and move onto something else".

    what size (capacity) USB stick will you need?

    Great, your going to have a go at backing up all your most important files onto a USB stick for safe keeping.

    But now you'll want to know what size, or capacity, USB stick to buy.

    Well that obviously depends on how much data you need to back up. So we need to know, roughly, how much data we've got.

    Are you any good at adding up?

    To find out, open File Explorer again.

    Then, in the left hand panel, find the folder you want to save onto the USB drive.

    When you've found it, right click it.

    The options menu will open.

    Left click PROPERTIES.

    click properties.

    When the properties dialogue box opens, it'll show you the size of the folder.

    In this example, the folder is 8 Megabytes (MB).

    Which is tiny. 8 MB is so small an amount of data it's not worth worrying about.

    But your's could be significantly larger.

    folder size 8 MB.

    This next folder is showing 25.3 Gigabytes (GB).

    That makes this a large folder.

    Gigabytes are significant amounts of data.

    a bigger folder. 25 gigabytes.

    So to find out what size USB stick you need to get, you simply check out the Properties box for the files and folders that you want backed up and add up all the sizes.

    You can ignore individual documents, they'll be tiny, maybe a few hundred Kilobytes (KB) at most.

    Don't bother adding up any folders that are less than 200 Megabytes (MB). It's not worth it.

    Round everything up. You don't need a calculator.

    So in my examples, I've got a folder of 8 MB, which I'll just ignore, and another folder of 25.3 GB.

    So I'll call that 30 GB.

    Which means I'd need a USB drive with a capacity of at least 30 Gigabytes (GB).


    megabytes & gigabytes.

    Now don't go all glassy eyed on me here.

    Whenever I mention Megabytes & Gigabytes, my clients often just stare blankly at me.

    It's those words (Megabytes and Gigabytes), they make people just switch off.

    But they're just words. Think of them like pints & gallons. Or better still, litres & kilolitres,

    We all know there's 1000 litres in a kilolitre, right. It's easy.

    Megabytes and Gigabytes are the same. They simply sound strange. They sound technical.

    But here's the thing, you can do this. You can.

    USB sticks are sold with capacities measured in Gigabytes (GB).

    2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB etc.

    There are 1000 Megabytes (MB) in 1 Gigabyte (GB)


    1 GB = 1000 MB.

    whichever way you prefer it.

    a USB stick.

    The size of USB drive that I'd need would be 32GB.

    That would easily hold both of the folders above, plus some spare room.


    all backed up & ready to go.

    Computers can go wrong at any time. Make sure you don't lose anything important. Back it up.