How to backup files before factory reset
How to backup files before factory reset

Planning a factory reset? Ensure your data is safe and sound with this comprehensive guide on backing up your computer before taking the plunge.

Introduction to Backing Up Before a Factory Reset

A factory reset is a great way to give your computer a fresh start, but it comes with a catch – all your data will be wiped clean. To avoid losing precious files, photos, and documents, backing up your computer is a must-do step. Factory resetting your computer can be a lifesaver when dealing with persistent issues or malware. However, it’s essential to ensure your data is safe before taking this step. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to back up your files before a factory reset, based on insights from various sources.

Why Backup Before A Factory Reset?

A factory reset restores your computer to its original manufacturer settings, potentially erasing all data and applications previously on the device. To avoid data loss, it’s crucial to back up your files before proceeding.

What Should You Backup?

  • Essential Folders: Common folders stored on the C drive such as Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Music.
  • Valuable Files: Any important files saved on other hard drives.
  • Software Installers: Commonly-used software installers to avoid re-downloading.
  • Product Keys: Important product keys for software and operating systems.
  • Browser Settings: Including bookmarks and saved passwords.

Options to Back Up Your Computer

  1. Determine What Needs Backing Up: Before diving in, decide what’s essential. This might include documents, photos, videos, software licenses, and more.
  2. Use Built-in Backup Tools:
    • For Windows: Use the ‘Backup and Restore’ feature found in the Control Panel.
    • For Mac: Utilize ‘Time Machine’ with an external drive.
  3. Consider Cloud Storage: Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive offer cloud storage solutions. This way, your data is safe and accessible from anywhere.
  4. External Hard Drives: A physical backup can be done using an external hard drive. Simply connect it and transfer your essential files.
  5. Create a System Image: This is a snapshot of your entire system – from system settings to programs. It’s especially useful if you want to restore your computer to its current state after the reset.
  6. Remember Software and Licenses: Ensure you have a list of all software and corresponding licenses. This will make reinstallation smoother.
  7. Verify Your Backup: Before proceeding with the reset, double-check your backup. Ensure all essential files are saved and accessible.

Using Windows Backup and Restore Tool:

Windows 10/11 Instructions:

  • Click the start button and search for ‘Windows Backup’. Click on that app.
  • The Windows Backup App will open
  • Click the blue ‘Back Up’ button
  • Sign in to your Microsoft Account and follow along to backup your files

Windows 7/8 Instructions:

  • Navigate to the Control Panel.
  • Click on ‘Backup and Restore (Windows 7)’ under the System and Security tab.
  • Choose ‘Create a system image’.
  • Select your backup destination (internal/external hard drive, DVDs, or network drives).
  • Start the backup process.

Using A Third Party Tool Like CBackup

CBackup is a reliable tool designed to back up computer files to public clouds like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox, as well as its own storage space.

  • Download and sign up for a CBackup account.
  • Log in and select ‘Backup PC to CBackup Cloud’.
  • Choose the files or drives you want to back up.
  • Start the backup process.

Advanced Recommendations:

  • Save essential files in OneDrive.
  • Export browser bookmarks to an HTML file for easy import later.
  • Use a password manager to save browser passwords.
  • Make a list of programs installed for easy reinstallation after the reset.

Post-Backup Precautions

Once you’ve backed up your files, you can proceed with the factory reset. Remember to test your backups to ensure they’re functional. After resetting, you can restore your files from the backup source.

  1. Keep Your Backup Safe: If you’re using physical storage, store it in a safe place to avoid damage or loss.
  2. Update Regularly: If you delay the factory reset, continue updating your backup to capture any new data.


While a factory reset can breathe new life into your computer, diving in without a proper backup can lead to irreversible data loss. By following the steps outlined above, you ensure that your digital life remains intact, no matter what.

Whether you choose to use built-in tools like Windows Backup and Restore or third-party solutions like CBackup, the key is to ensure all essential data is safe. Always double-check your backups and keep multiple copies if possible.

Skipping a backup can lead to heartbreak. After losing a treasure trove of memories and essential documents in a hasty reset, I now religiously follow the steps above. And trust me, the peace of mind is worth the effort.


  • How often should I backup my computer?
    • Regular backups are advisable, even without a reset in mind. Consider weekly or monthly backups, depending on your usage.
  • Can I use my smartphone or tablet for backup?
    • While possible for smaller files, it’s not practical for a complete backup due to storage limitations.
  • How long does a backup take?
    • It depends on the amount of data and the method used. Cloud backups might take longer due to internet speeds, while physical transfers depend on the read/write speed of your storage device.
  • Is cloud storage safe?
    • Reputable cloud storage providers offer encryption and robust security measures. However, always ensure you have strong, unique passwords.
  • What if I forget to backup something?
    • Once a factory reset is done, data retrieval becomes challenging. It’s why verifying your backup is crucial.
  • Can I back up my files to cloud storage?
    • Yes, tools like CBackup allow you to back up your files directly to cloud storage platforms like Google Drive and OneDrive.
  • What if I accidentally factory reset without backing up?
    • It might be challenging to recover all data, but some professional data recovery tools might help retrieve some lost files.
  • Can I choose specific files for backup?
    • Yes, most backup tools allow you to select specific files or folders for backup, ensuring you only save what’s essential.
  • How often should I back up my files?
    • Regular backups are recommended, especially if you frequently update or add new files. Consider setting up automatic backups if your chosen tool supports it.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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