How to Setup Windows Backup to Defend Yourselves from Ransomware

The WannaCry Ransomware attack has shown us that how vulnerable and unprepared we are. Still, many PCs are hostage to the ransomware while owners are trying to find a way to get back their files as the deadline looms.

Ransomware backup CV

The ransomware has not only exploited the backend vulnerabilities in Windows but also the bad habits of not updating OS, not having an updated anti-virus, not following safe web practices and few more.

One of them that has particularly proven fatal is the apathy towards backing up important files.

Why Don’t We Backup Files?

The blunt answer is that we are lazy. That’s it. There’s no psychological hidden reason for why we don’t do it. When the shit hits the fan we come to our senses, but till then it’s too late. The same has been repeated during this attack.

Irfan khan backup meme
What most of us do

Hopefully this time people will learn as they had to literally pay to get back their stuff. But a simple backup using Windows inbuilt tools is not sufficient in the case of a ransomware attack.

We need a different method which provides redundancy against the encryption threat.

Two is Better Than One

The simple solution here is to use two methods for backing up your files. Windows 10 already has two backup features in form of File History & Windows Backup & Restore. Both these are more than enough for standard users. But the problem is that they don’t offer redundancy.

Windows_10_File_History
File History is available by going to Settings > Update & Security > Backup

File History stores the previous versions of files and folders in your C:/User/ folder itself. As ransomware encrypts the whole drive, such a backup will be rendered useless.

In the case of Backup & Restore one has to choose an external or network drive for backup to be foolproof. But that’s still a single level which is not effective.

Windows_Backup_and_Restore
It can be accessed by going to Control Panel > System and Security > Back up and Restore (Windows 7)

What if the external drive you are using for backup crashes? What if the external drive is connected to the PC and the ransomware makes the attack?

There are many more such What Ifs to describe what can go wrong. Even network drives are not safe as the ransomware can spread through LAN.

Cloud is the Solution

The solution to this is using a third party backup. There are many programs available that do this but we need something which can do an online backup as well. Again there are many paid services which offer online backup.

Starting with CrashPlan, if you want an simple no-nonsense app, the paid plans are worth it. It offers unlimited cloud storage, onsite-offisite backup, encryption and many more features.

For the budget-minded DIY enthusiast like me, there are two apps which do the same thing as CrashPlan but using external cloud services(Dropbox, Onedrive etc.). But do keep in mind that the DIY method is a little complex.

CloudBerry & Odrive To the Rescue

These two are excellent applications for cross-platform cloud syncing and in our case, backing up data. Though both may seem similar, there’s little difference between how both of these work.

Cloudberry vs ODrive

In use, Odrive is very simple. Upon installing, it places itself in the taskbar and all the cloud services linked appear as separate folders. You have to manually copy files to a particular folder for it to sync. As for

As for Cloudberry, it’s little less simple and so we have shown the How-To below:

Step 1: After you have installed Cloudberry, open it from Start menu. As shown below, click on the Files button to create a new Backup plan.

New_Backup_Plan_CB

It will ask you to choose between Local or Cloud and Hybrid backup. For our purpose, we will use the first option. If you want to use Hybrid Backup, you can read more about it here.

Step 2: Next you need to add a Cloud storage account for saving the files. Click on the Add New Account button to add a cloud service account. Then click on Next and select Simple mode for backup and in the next screen select the folders you want to backup.

CB Backup Steps

Step 3: This screen has all the options for tweaking the backup process. You can specify which files should be backed up based on several parameters such as type, size and how long ago they were modified.

Backup_Options

Step 4: In this step, you configure when the backup should take place.Select the Real-time or Recurring option here. In the final step, you can even set to receive a notification on email regarding the backup status.

Backup_Schedule

Similar plans can be setup for different folders. For example, you can have your photos backed up to Google Drive while Documents can be uploaded to another service.

The only drawback of Cloudberry is the limited support of personal cloud services. Outside of Onedrive, Google Drive and few others, most of the services are enterprise-grade.

But this limitation can be overcome by using Odrive, a local file-sync app and some creativity.

So Ready To Backup, Finally?

Backing up your files is just one of the aspect of protecting oneself from the ever increasing cyber attacks. Using a good(and updated) anti-virus, keep your OS up to date and following safe-web practices are others.

The one thing to keep in mind is to always prefer an offsite(other than on your PC) backup, either in form of external drive or cloud. If you have any questions regarding this or any thoughts to share, please share them through comments.

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A geek, gamer, DIY enthusiast who loves to read about technology, computers and especially How-Things-Work!!