Backup Your Files to Google Drive (from Windows)


One of the most important things a teacher can do over the summer is to backup his or her digital files. Depending on your school and its data system, your files might or might not be automatically backed up by your IT department. Regardless, it is never a bad idea to create your own occasional backups, so you have access and control when you need it.

The instructions below will take you through backing up any documents you may have stored on your Windows laptop or desktop. [Another post will cover similar procedures for Mac computers.]

Here are the basic steps we will follow:

  1.    Find your files
  2.    Create a backup of your files (zipped, for easy moving)
  3.    Copy the backup to someplace safe.

Step 1. Research: where are your files?

Before we start clicking and copying we should do a little thinking. There are a lot of places you can store files on a computer, and it is a good idea to think through these places before you begin. You will want to back up each of these places if you store important files there.  

Checklist: Do you store files...
   ▢ in the Documents/My Documents folder?
   ▢ in the Pictures/My Pictures folder?
   ▢ in the Videos/My Videos folder?
   ▢ on the Desktop?
   ▢ on another network drive provided by your school?

You will need to complete each of the steps below for each place that you store your files.

Step 2. Go to Your Folder 

From the Start menu, click your name.

Double-click the first area that you want to backup.
For the examples below, I will start with the My Documents folder, but when I reach the end of this tutorial, I'd come back to this step and repeat with My Pictures and My Desktop.

When the folder opens, press CTRL-A to select all of the folders and files.
Pro tip: You may have folders that you do not need to backup. You can CTRL-click these folder to unselect them.

Step 3. Zip the Files

With all of these folders selected, Right-click one of them (it doesn't matter which) and choose Send to > Compressed (zipped) Folder.

A dialog box will show you the progress of the compressing. If you have a lot of files, this could take a long time.
Compressing does three things for you: it copies your files, it smaller (by "squeezing the air" out of them), and it bundles them into a neat little package.

Weirdly, Windows names the ZIP file after whichever folder you happened to Right-click on above. However, all of the folder that were selected are in this zip file, so the name is misleading.

Rename the newly created ZIP file to something you will remember, like Documents-Backup-June 2015.zip
Pro tip: after you rename the file, double-click it. You should see all of your folders and files inside! If not, you probably need to repeat Step 2 above.

Step 4. Put That File Someplace Safe!

That ZIP file contains your documents in a nice neat package. Copy this file to a safe place that is NOT on your computer. The location is up to you, but I'd suggest:
  • A network drive provided by your IT department
  • Your Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, or some other "cloud service" location 
  • A USB flash drive




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