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Education & Training

Office of Information Security

Data Backup

There are many ways to back up your files, and using more than one method will minimize the chance of losing valuable information.

why backup


In addition to protecting your computer against such security threats as malware and phishing scams, it’s also important to protect your data by making electronic copies of important files. Computer malfunctions, theft, viruses, and accidental deletion are just some of the ways you can lose academic work, photos, financial records, and other valuable information.

what to backup


You will want to back up files and folders that contain your documents, music, and videos. The first thing you need to do is make copies of your files. Many computers offer a backup software program that can copy all the files and programs on your computer:

You can also manually back up these files and folders using your chosen backup method(s) below.

The great thing about modern email platforms (your Penn State Office 365 email, Gmail, Yahoo,, etc.) is that your emails are automatically backed up and saved in the cloud. There is no need to actively back up email data. If you’re using the Microsoft Outlook client, you can still perform a local backup/archive of your email data by doing the following:

Don’t lose your bookmarks or favorites in your web browser! Many popular web browsers have built-in backup capabilities as long as you’re logged into the browser with a valid account.

choose backup method


After you make copies, you need to find a place to store them. Ideally, you should back up your files and data in more than one place. Here are some options:

Online/Cloud Storage
There are many options when it comes to backing up your files to a secure server over the Internet. Many of these services are often referred to as cloud storage providers. Some options include:

While you can use CDs, DVDs, and flash drives for storing small amounts of files (such as photos and songs), external hard drives can hold many more files (like an entire music library) and can plug directly into your computer for faster copying. Make sure to store your devices in a safe place and consider keeping a copy at another location (in case of fire or theft).