Windows 11 backup: How to back up Windows 11

Acronis
Cyber Protect Home Office
formerly Acronis True Image

While Windows 11 enables you to create a backup image of your computer, it does not provide the full breadth of features that other third-party backup solutions do. Here is the skinny on what you need to know to fully protect your Windows 11 environment.

How does data backup work?

Some backup systems only back up your documents, files and folders, while other backup solutions, like Windows 11 Backup and Restore and Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, provide full-image backups that include the operating system (OS), data and applications. When you perform an initial backup, the software replicates your entire system. Subsequent backups are typically incremental or differential backups that only capture the data changes since the last backup, which saves both time and storage space.    

Do I need a windows 11 backup system on my computer?

The short answer is yes! Regardless of your operating system, you want to create a full-image backup of your entire system, including the data, applications, and OS. In the event you experience an unforeseen event — such as a cyberattack, software / hardware failure, human-made or natural disaster, power failure, theft of your device, accidental deletion of files, folders, data, etc. — you will be able to recover your entire system and not suffer any data loss.

Windows 11 recovery system — Is it enough?

Windows 11 offers two ways to back up your PC:

  • Backup and Restore creates a full-image backup, but only offers the option of recovering the full image. Microsoft recommends that you use the Windows 11 recovery system to create a recovery drive so if you run into problems with your Windows 11 system later, you can reinstall Windows 11 using the recovery drive.
  • File History lets you back up and recover selected files and folders.

If you want the flexibility to recover a full-image and selected files / folders, you will need to use both Windows 11 options to adequately recover your data — or you can consider a third-party solution that enables you to create a full-disk image and download either the entire image for a full PC recovery or selected files and folders.

Windows 11 has other limitations as well, including no option to back up your files to the cloud and no easy way to follow the 3-2-1 backup rule. Even for home users, this limitation is significant. For obvious reasons, backups shouldn’t be stored in the same location as your PC. If a fire or flood destroyed your computer, more than likely your local backups will also be destroyed.

Do you need both local backup and cloud backup?

Yes, at minimum, you should create and maintain both a local and a cloud backup. A local backup makes it easy for you to select and recover selected files and folders quickly, and a cloud backup ensures that if your local backups are compromised or destroyed, you can recover your files and folders. Industry experts recommend that all PC users follow the 3-2-1 backup rule, which provides more granular requirements.

3-2-1 backup rule for Windows 11

The 3-2-1 backup rule stipulates that you should always have three copies of your data — a production copy and two backups — stored on two different media with one copy stored in an offsite location, such as the cloud. By following this rule, you can be sure that you will always have a backup copy regardless of what happens.

  • Full-image backups with flexible recovery options. Modern backup solutions enable you to create a full-image backup and let you recover the full image or selected files and folders —saving you the time and effort of using both Windows 11 backup features.
  • Cloud backups. The option to back up to the cloud offers two advantages:

1. You can easily follow the 3-2-1 backup rule.

2. Your cloud backup is safe in the event of fire or flood that can destroy your PC and local backups.

3. Unlike local backups, a cloud backup is protected from cyberattacks that target your PC.

Always keep in mind that if you suffer a cyberattack, your local backups are probably compromised as well.

  • Protection for Microsoft 365. Another drawback of Windows native backup is that it doesn't offer any way to back up your Microsoft 365 account. The assumption is that Microsoft’s servers are completely protected and secure; but over the last few years, outages, security breaches, and attacks have targeted even the largest global organizations, including Facebook, Amazon, and Google. You should be able to store your data securely, on third-party independent servers, with data encryption — so that even the software provider has no access to your files. Fully secure and encrypted third-party backup solutions for Windows 11 backups offer the assurance that no one other than you has access to your private files.
  • Protection for your mobile devices. Modern third-party backup solutions can protect more than just your Windows PC. Some solutions also enable you to back up your iPhone and Android devices as well.
  • Protection from cyberattacks. While Windows Defender, which is included in Windows 11 Security , can protect your PC from cyberattacks, it is separate from Windows backup features. As previously discussed, if your PC is attacked and compromised, more than likely your local backups are too. Alternatively, modern third-party backup solutions include artificial intelligence (AI)-based cybersecurity to block attacks in real-time — even attacks caused by zero-day vulnerabilities — before malware, ransomware, or cryptojackers can cause damage and keep accidental infections and unwanted cyberattacks away from your valuable data. Even more importantly, if an attack gets through and compromises your PC, modern solutions will also automatically restore any affected files.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office — backup, recovery, protection for your Windows 11 PC

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (formerly Acronis True Image) offers everything you need to safeguard your Windows 11 PC and backup data from all of today’s threats — from disk failures to ransomware attacks. Thanks to its unique integration of backup and cybersecurity in one, it saves you time and reduces the cost, complexity, and risk caused by managing multiple solutions.