How To Backup Your Google Chromebook

Google Chromebooks are fantastically intuitive machines. As such, they tend to automatically backup your files, apps, data, and user settings without you ever having to worry about it. Still, it’s good practice to be extra safe and perform an additional hardware backup as well. 

Alternatively, if you’re happy with your backup remaining on the cloud (Google Drive), it’s still good practice to regularly ensure that everything you’ve got stored offline on your Google Chromebook (usually in the Downloads folder) is backed up to Google Drive as well.

To learn how to backup your Google Chromebook, simply follow our step-by-step guides below. For any additional information, or if you have any further queries, please direct your attention to our FAQs at the end of this article.

How to backup your Google Chromebook to the cloud (Google Drive)

  1. Power up your Google Chromebook and sign into your Google Account
  2. Open the Launcher from your Desktop, and navigate to the ‘My Files’ app
  3. In the sidebar of the app, you’ll see your various folders (Pictures, Videos, Music, Downloads, etc.) as well as any external devices. You’ll also see the Google Drive folder. You should already have your Google Account connected to Google Drive, but in case you’ve not, click on Google Drive now
    1. Follow the on-screen instructions to connect your Google Account to the Google cloud
  4. Next, locate the files in your Downloads folder which exist only on your Chromebook, and simply drag and drop these files into the Google Drive folder to back them up
  5. Repeat until all of the files you wish to backup have been moved to Google Drive

How to turn on automatic backup to Google Drive on your Chromebook

  1. Power up your Google Chromebook and sign into your Google Account
  2. Open the Launcher from your Desktop, and navigate to the ‘My Files’ app
  3. Right-click on the Google Drive folder in the left-hand sidebar
  4. From the pop-up menu, select ‘Enable Automatic Backup’
  5. Doing so will ensure that from now on out, all of your information, settings, preferences, apps, files and data will be automatically saved and backed up to Google Drive

How to backup your Google Chromebook on an external harddrive/SD card

  1. Power up your Google Chromebook and sign into your Google Account
  2. Next, plug in your external harddrive via one of the USB ports on the side of your Chromebook (USB-C is fastest, USB-2 the next fastest, and USB-3 the slowest). Alternatively, insert your SD card (carefully) into the SD card slot on the side of your Chromebook
    1. You may be asked to format your harddrive or SD card if this is the first time you’re using it. To do so, simply follow the on-screen instructions and wait for the process to complete
  3. Next, open the Launcher from your Desktop, and navigate to the ‘My Files’ app
  4. In the sidebar of the app, you’ll see your various folders (Pictures, Videos, Music, Downloads, etc.) as well as the external device(s) you’ve connected. To backup your various files to the external device, simply begin dragging and dropping them from their various folders into the external device in the sidebar
  5. Repeat as necessary until you’ve backed up all of the files you need/want to onto your external device

Tip: You can create folders and subfolders in the external device by clicking it in the My Files sidebar, and then right-clicking in the external device folder and selecting ‘New Folder’. This can help you organize your backup for future use.

And there you have it! We highly recommend you do both a physical and online backup around once a month just to be as safe as can be. And make sure to enable automatic backup to Google Drive as well, in case you’re like us and tend to forget to do it manually!

For any additional information or extra queries, see our FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions

Why would I want to backup my Google Chromebook?

Backing up any computer on a regular basis is just good practice. Technology crashes, it corrupts, it can be hacked, or, indeed, lost. Put simply, you should be backing up your Chromebook to ensure that no matter what happens to it, your work, personal data and information, and any and all files you’ve created or downloaded are kept safe.

Backing up your files is kind of like putting your money in a bank, except it’s even safer, since what you’re doing by backing up files is technically like duplicating your money, and keeping one version of it in a bank, and the other in your wallet. 

The good news is that Google Chromebooks are literally designed to do this for you automatically. Chromebooks are any laptop or device which runs Chrome OS, meaning that they perform the majority of their functions, and access and store most of their apps, files, and user information all online – in the cloud platform known as Google Drive. 

Thankfully, since Google Chromebooks store your stuff in Drive automatically, you might not need to back up your files half as often as you would on, say, a Windows PC. Still, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still manually back up your Chromebook from time to time.

After all, you’ve probably got a good few offline downloads in your Downloads folder, and what’s more, you may not trust Google Drive fully. Cloud platforms are of course just as vulnerable as anything else online to hacking or corruption, and as such, it’s a good idea to make a secondary backup to a physical hard drive on top of the cloud backup to Google Drive.

What’s the best method of backing up my Google Chromebook?

Honestly, neither the physical backup nor the cloud backup is clearly better than the other. We think that there’s no better method in reality than performing both on a semi-regular basis. That way you can sleep soundly knowing that if one mode of a backup fails, you’ve always got the other to fall back on.

How often should I backup my Google Chromebook?

This really depends on you and your own personal preferences, as well as the frequency at which you download files to your Chromebook’s offline folders. Since Google Chromebooks automatically backup files and applications, as well as user data and settings, you’ll certainly not need to backup your Chromebook as often as you would a Windows PC, for example. Still, performing a monthly backup is a good middle-ground, just to be safe.

How do I restore my Google Chromebook from a backup?

Again, this depends on the kind of backup (or rather, the most recent backup you’ve made). If you’ve backed up your Google Chromebook to the cloud, then restoring a new or newly-reset Chromebook from Google Drive is literally as quick and painless as signing into your Google Account and Google Drive on the Chromebook. Once you’ve done this, you’ll find your user settings, downloads, applications, and more all return to your device in minutes.

If you’re restoring your Chromebook from a physical backup, the process isn’t quite as quick, but it is just as easy. Simply boot up the new or newly-reset Chromebook, sign in to your user account, and plug in the external hard drive or SD card on which you’ve stored your backed-up files. Next, open the My Files app from the launcher, and locate the external device in the left-hand sidebar. Open up the external device, and begin moving the files backed up there back onto your Chromebook by dragging and dropping them into the Downloads (or other appropriate) folder in My Files. Repeat as necessary until all backed-up files have been copied over to your Chromebook, thus finalizing the restoration of it.