Given the portability of laptops, they are prone getting damaged and getting stolen. This makes completing a laptop all the more essential. This article highlights the main choices for running backups and the user types each approach will suit.

The two main options are to (a) use an online laptop backup solution or (b) backup data to a local drive.

Approach A: Using Online Services

This entails using laptop backup software (e.g. iDrive) to automate the process of synchronizing the important system files and personal data on your laptop with their data store. These services normally have automation services that can administer the synchronization of files (laptop to online data store) without you needing to manually run any applications.


  • Stores the backup data to a remote location that can be accessed throughout the world.
  • Automated backups allow you to focus on work and not worry about forgetting to run backups.
  • Incorporates a Windows backup of system files as well as personal data.
  • Requires a fast internet connection.
  • Can use up a lot of bandwidth as the synchronization occurs.
  • Recurring cost of hosting the data online.
Best suited to:
  • Mobile users who don't wish to carry around external drives for storing laptop data backups.
  • Users seeking a low-maintenance approach.

Approach B: Synchronizing data to a local drive

External hard drives can store huge amounts of data, allow fast access to data (especially over USB 2.0) and allow you to store whatever laptop data you choose. It is possible to use simple tools like Microsoft's own (free) SyncToy to run the synchronization which basically administers the copying and pasting of files from the laptop to the external drive. Critically, these tools only copy over new or amended files in order to speed up the synchronization.

  • Works even when you don't have an internet connection.
  • Allows more flexibility about which files are to synchronized, how they may be encrypted and the frequency of backups.
  • Only requires a purchase of an external drive to get started.
  • Single point of failure. Online services maintain multiple redundant copies of your data for safety and security (in case one is corrupted), whereas there is only one external hard drive.
  • Requires manual administration to set up the files and times when you wish to backup the data.
Best suited to:
  • Those wishing to keep control of their data or fear putting personal data online.
  • Anyone with a slow/intermittent internet connection.