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Backup your data and devices

Learn how to backup your data and devices as a safety net against cybercrime.

Most of us have experienced the stress of losing our data. 

If your device is lost, stolen or damaged, you’ll no longer be able to access your work, photos or files. 

That is, unless you’ve backed up your data and devices.  

Making backups is an easy way to protect your most important information.  

Read on to learn how to backup your data and devices. 

What is a backup? 

A backup (also spelled ‘back up’) is a copy of your data that’s taken and stored to use in case your data is ever lost, stolen or damaged. 

Data refers to all the files on your computer and devices, like your mobile phone. It can include:

  • photos
  • documents
  • personal information.

An easy way to think about backups is that it’s like making a photocopy of an important document. Even if you lose the original document or someone steals it, you still have a photocopy of it you can use.

Why are backups important?

Regularly and securely backing up your data prevents stress during data loss. There's a range of ways you could lose access to your data, including due to cybercrime. 

For example, cybercriminals may use malicious software (called malware) to access your device. Once they have your device, they’ll be able to erase or steal your data.

But cybercrime isn’t the only way you could lose access to your data. Some other common causes of data loss are: 

  • someone stealing your physical device
  • losing or breaking your device
  • accidentally deleting data on your device
  • your data becoming unreadable
  • your hard drive needing to be erased or replaced.

What should I backup?

It's up to you what data you’d like to backup for each device. But it’s a good idea to backup anything that would upset or inconvenience you to lose.  

How do I backup my devices?

There are 3 main ways you can backup your data:

  1. Cloud backup
  2. Backup to an external storage device
  3. A combination of cloud and external storage device backup.

Which type of backup is right for me?

The backup type that’s right for you depends on a range of factors. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each to decide which one works best for you. 

How do I backup different programs and devices?

Different programs and devices will have different processes for backups. Below you’ll find links to help guides for backing up popular programs and devices: 

Microsoft Windows backup

Visit Microsoft’s website to learn how to back up and restore your files using Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices.  

Android backup

Visit Google’s Android Help Center to learn how to back up and restore your data on your Android device.

Apple macOS backup

Visit Apple’s website to learn how to back up and restore your data using macOS. 

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch backup

Visit Apple’s website to learn how to back up and restore your data on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.   

Backup tips

Here are a few tips that will help you make the most of backing up your data.

Make backups a habit 

Doing regular backups is the best way to make sure your data can be easily recovered if needed. If you’re using an external storage device, put a reminder in your calendar to backup your data. 

Automate the process

Remove the headache of regular backups by using a program or cloud service that provides automatic backups.

Secure your physical backup device

If you choose to use an external storage device, store it somewhere safe like a locked compartment. 

Ideally, store it in a different, off-site location. That way, if the worst happens (for example, if your device is stolen or there’s a fire), you’ll still have access to your backup. 

Make copies of your backups

Keep two copies of your backups and store them in different places. This will give you the peace of mind that your data will be safe if a backup doesn’t work or if your backup gets infected with a virus.  

For example, make cloud backups and external storage device backups.  

It’s wise to make one of these an offline backup (a backup that isn’t connected to any devices or networks). Having an offline backup, such as an external hard drive backup, means you can restore your data even in the event of a malware or virus attack.  

Disconnect when not in use

Disconnect your USB drive or external hard drive from your network or devices when you’ve finished using it.

Test your backups  

While backups work reliably most of the time, there’s a chance that they may not. Testing your backups is a simple way to make sure they’re working as they’re meant to.

Scan using antivirus software before backing up 

If you plan to restore a backup from a physical device, do a scan for viruses first. If you don’t and your device has a virus, you may lose the backup of your data.  

You may already have antivirus software on your device: 

  • Windows. Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows 11 computers come with a built-in antivirus tool called Windows Security 
  • Apple. Apple macOS computers include antivirus software called XProtect. To learn more about macOS security, visit Apple’s website. 
  • Mobile devices (for example, mobile phones, tablets and e-readers). The best way to keep your mobile device secure is to keep that device updated.

For more information, read the Australian Cyber Security Centre's guidance on choosing and using antivirus software.