A Complete Guide to Backing up all your files

Backing up all files

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The necessity of a good backup system cannot be overemphasized.  Anybody who loses their device is usually more worried about the pictures and documents on the device more than the cost of the device.

In this article, I am going to guide you through the best backup methods for all your file types. Including photos, videos, documents and certificates (even hardcopy), contacts, messages,  and other file types.

This is going to be a bit long, you can use the table of contents above to skip to a particular section if necessary.

The most common backup services available.

There are countless backup service providers out there. Some provide general services (Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive), while others are more specific ( Adobe document cloud). And there are other non-traditional ones like Telegram.

First, we will briefly look at these platforms individually and also compare and contrast their uses. Then we will zoom into the best backup systems for various file types.

Factors to consider in choosing a backup service provider

  • Cross-device capability. Some of the services are limited to certain devices. Eg. iCloud is limited to Apple devices only while Google Drive is available for all devices.
  • Storage Space and upgradability. Each of the providers has a certain quota that is available for free. Most of them provide additional quota that is available for a premium amount.
  • Synchrony between cloud and local storage. There are some services that automatically backup your files for you while others are only available through manual backup.

Using Google Drive as a Backup Service.

Google Drive is definitely the boss among all the backup services I mentioned above. The reason being that they provide backup for every type of file and their backups work very smoothly across all devices.

Google Drive provides a free quota of 15GB. But you can get photos and videos backed up with unlimited quota. Which means photos and videos will not eat into your 15GB. I will show you how to do this shortly.

Google drive pricing
Google drive pricing

Googe Drive works with other mobile capable apps such as Google Photos, Docs, Sheets, and Calendar. Their respective apps are available on iOS, Android and Web as well.

All photos and videos stored on Google Drive are also accessible through the Google Photos app. Word documents are accessible through Google Docs while Spreadsheets are accessible through Google Sheets.

Events and other date-related data like birthdays are backed up to the Google Calendar. Contacts are also backed up to Google contacts.

Using iCloud as a Backup Service.

iCloud is a very good option especially if you are an all Apple person. iCloud is only available for Apple devices.

It connects all your Apple devices and makes them work so seamlessly together as if they were one device.

There’s so much you can do with your phone and laptop if they are both connected to the same iCloud account. Especially if you also connect them to the same wiFi network.

ICloud gives a free quota of 5GB for all you data which can be upgraded. iCloud backs up all kinds of data including photos and videos, documents, app details, and more.

icloud pricing for backup
icloud pricing

Google Drive vs iCloud as Backup Service.

If you plan to use only Apple devices for the rest of your life, then definitely go for iCloud. Otherwise, I suggest you use Google Drive.

You can enjoy both as well, while making Google drive your main backup service. I choose Google Drive over iCloud for the following reasons.

  • Google Drive works for all OSs while iCloud only works with iOS and Mac (Apple Products).
  • Google Drive gives a free quota of 15GB while iCloud gives 5GB. Google also provides unlimited quota for photos and videos, independent of the 15GB.
  • Google provides apps that make it easy to access files on any device.
  • Google Drive connects to all other Google services like Gmail.

Onedrive and Dropbox as backup services

These are also very good options for backing up all kinds of files.

Onedrive is provided by Microsoft and gives a free quota of 5GB while Dropbox gives 2GB.

These services usually come with some subscriptions. For Example, some computers come with 20GB dropbox subscriptions. And you may get Onedrive with some computers too or Microsoft 365 subscription.

drop box pricing for backup
dropbox pricing
Onedrive pricing
Onedrive pricing

Telegram as a Backup Service

Let’s be clear, Telegram is not a backup service provider! Telegram only has some features that makes it possible to use it to backup files.

First, Telegram unlike WhatsApp is a Cloud storage, just like the Backup providers. This makes it possible to be able to store a file in your telegram account on one device and access it on other devices.

How do you do this? Sending the file to someone is one way. But it’s not the best way.

Telegram has a feature called “Saved Messages”. You can find this at the Settings tab. Over there, it’s just like chatting with yourself. So you can save messages that you need later there.

But of course you can also save bigger files like photos, videos and documents there. You can even bundle multiple files into a zip file and store it there.

There are a lot of other tricks in the use of Telegram. Check out this article fro more Telegram Tips and Tricks you should know about.

Using Adobe Document Cloud as a backup service

Unlike the other backup services I’ve mentioned above, Adobe document cloud is for backing up only documents.  If you use Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Scan, you have the option to backup your files to the cloud storage.

On the Adobe Acrobat reader app, go to “Files”.  At the locations, you should see “Document Cloud”. You can move files to the document cloud to save them there.

On the Adobe scan app, you also have the option to backup all the files you scan directly to the document cloud.

You need to create an adobe account and login to be able to use the services mentioned above. You can do this when you first install the apps or you can go to Settings to log in from from there.

Check out this article for more on Adobe Scan How to scan and backup documents with Adobe Scan.

How to backup Photos and Videos

I recommend backing up your photos and videos with Google Drive as you have the opportunity to get unlimited storage.

Note that you need to have a Google account to get access to your Google Drive account. If you have a Gmail account it means you have a Google account.

If you don’t have a Gmail account, click here to go create one.

On phone, backing up photos and videos is very easy. All you need to do is to install the Google Photos app from the PlayStore or AppStore. Then login with your Gmail.

If you already have photos on your Google Drive, they will be loaded in. After setting up Google Photos, it will automatically upload all your local Photos to your Google Drive.

We have a short article that will teach you all you need to know about Google Photos including how to set it up and how to get unlimited storage with it. It will also teach you how to backup photos from your PC

Check out the article here Never Lose a Photo again! Back up your photos and videos with Google Photos

If you use an iPhone, your photos may also be backing up to your iCloud account. If you use a free iCloud subscription, I suggest you stop your photos from backing up to iCloud.

The iCloud free quota is small and therefore should be reserved for backing up app settings and data.

How to backup large folders and files

Unlike many backup services, Google Drive allows you to upload whole folders with all their content.

To upload a whole folder or a large file, open your Drive app on your phone. Click on the plus button and select Upload. This will take you to your files where you can select the file or folder you wish to upload.

choose folder to backup

Note that on iPhone, you may not be able to upload a whole folder. You may have to copy the folder to a computer and upload it through the web version of Drive.

On PC, go to google.com in your browser. Then click on the Apps icon at the top right and select “Drive”. Make sure you are signed in first.

Google apps icon

Now click on the “New” button at the top left and select “Folder” or “File”. Select the folder or file you want to upload.

select file or folder to backup

How to backup documents

Documents such as word documents, PDFs and Spreadsheets documents can be backed up by uploading them to Google Drive.

Word documents that are stored on Google Drive can be accessed and manipulated using the Google Docs app. You can download it from PlayStore or AppStore. You can also access it the way we accessed Google Drive in the section above.

Spreadsheet documents can be accessed through the Google Sheets app.

We have a short article on Google Docs that will teach you how to use it to edit, collaborate, and share documents. Check it out Google Docs for Document Editing, Sharing & Multi-device Synchrony.

How to backup important Hardcopy documents

Hardcopy documents such as certificates and ID cards should be well preserved. The best way to do this is to get a soft copy version of them.

To do this, first, we need to scan the document using the Adobe Scan mobile app or any other app capable of scanning documents.

It’s better to scan the document in broad daylight with the camera right on top of the document to avoid casting shadows on the document.

Save the document as PDF after scanning. When you use Adobe scan, you have the option of saving these documents to the Adobe document cloud so that you never have to worry about losing them.

I suggest you also save these documents to your Google Drive as well for another layer of backup. Also to get all the other good features of Google Drive.

We have a post on Scanning and backing up documents using Adobe Scan. Check it out How to scan and backup documents with Adobe Scan.

How to backup Contacts

When you are setting up a new phone, and you log in with your Gmail(Google) account or you use it as your Apple ID, your Google contacts automatically load into your contacts.

You can ensure all your contacts actually backup to Google contacts at the contact settings of the phone.

On iPhone, go to Settings > Contacts.

iphone contacts settings

Now Go to “Default Account” and set it to “Google”. If you don’t find Google there, come back to “Contacts” and go to “Accounts”.

Select add account and Select Google from here. Add your Google account details and then go back to Default Account. Select Google as your default account.

On Android, as long as you are logged in to Google, your contacts backup to Google. But you can be sure by checking the location when you are saving a new contact. Make sure it is set to your Gmail/Google account.

What I explained above is for new contacts. How about submitting all your old contacts from device to Google as well. Or transferring from iCloud account to Google.

Open Google Drive on your phone. Go to Menu at the top right. Select ‘Settings’ from there and select ‘Backup’ or ‘Backup and reset’.

Select Contacts and make sure it is switched on. You can do the same for Calendar and Photos on iPhone. Now go ahead and and press “START BACKUP” or “Backup now”.

This will back up all your specified data to your Google Drive.

How to Backup Messages and Chats

To back up single messages you would like to use later, you can save them in the Telegram “Saved Messages”. How to do this is mentioned in the Telegram section above.

To backup your entire WhatsApp chat, you need to connect it to your Google Drive account or iCloud. Unfortunately you can’t connect it to your Google Drive account on an iPhone. You can only back it up to your iCloud account.

On iPhone, your WhatsApp automatically backs up to your iCloud. Android also backs up to Google Drive automatically.

You can make sure this is the case by going to your WhatsApp Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. Make sure your Google Drive account is connected here. If it’s not, do connect it. Then set the backup to auto if it is not.

Wrapping Up

Backing up your files and device is a must. The best is to make this an automatic process by using the methods explained above. This way you will never have to worry about losing a single important document or file ever again.

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