How to Back Up an External Hard Drive

By Michael J. Scott

An external hard drive should be backed up regularly.
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An external hard drive is often used for backup purposes, but it can also be used to store data that you are actively using, including music, pictures and movies. If you are using an external drive primarily for data storage, it should be backed up regularly, just as you would back up the internal hard drive in your computer. This ensures that you won't lose all of your important data if the drive crashes or fails. Various methods exist for backing up an external drive, but the two simplest solutions are to burn your data to DVDs or back up your data to an external drive.

DVD Method

Connect your external hard drive to your computer using its USB cable. Plug the external drive's power cord into an outlet.

Boot up your computer and wait for it to recognize the external hard drive.

Insert a blank DVD into the disc burner on your PC.

Open your operating system's file browser. Drag files that you want to back up from your external hard drive and drop them on the DVD icon in your file browser. This will start the burning process. The files will be copied to the DVD. Once the process is finished, eject the DVD from the burner and store it in a safe place.

Repeat the process until all of your files have been burned to DVDs. Depending on the size of your external drive and the amount of data you wish to back up, you may have to burn several DVDs.

External Hard Drive Method

Connect the external hard drive that you want to back up to your PC by plugging its USB cable into an open USB port on your computer and connecting its power cord to a working outlet. Plug a second external hard drive that you intend to use for backup into another USB port on the computer and connect its power cord.

Boot up your PC and wait for it to recognize both drives.

Open your operating system's file browser and click on the external drive that you want to back up.

Select all of the files on the external drive and drag them to the backup drive. The files will be copied. Depending on the amount of data you need to copy, the process can take several minutes or even a few hours.

Once the files have been copied, disconnect your backup drive and store it in a safe place.

Items you will need

  • Blank DVDs

  • External hard drive

  • DVD burner and two open USB ports


Back up your external drive at least once a month – once a week is even better.