How To Back Up All The Devices That You’re Not Backing Up

How To Back Up All The Devices That You’re Not Backing Up

We hope you’re all diligently backing up your phones and laptops these days, but our lives are filled with so many gadgets and gizmos that it can be easy to lose track of where all your data actually is and what gadgets actually need a regular back up. Here’s a quick check-up for some of the other gadgets you might have in your home, and how to make sure they’re safely backed up.

Obviously we can’t cover every piece of hardware out there in-depth, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about the files on your different devices, and what would happen to that data if those devices were broken beyond repair, lost or stolen.


All of your ebook purchases are accessible at any time via the cloud, so you don’t need to worry about losing access to the complete works of Shakespeare if your Kindle should drop into a lake. That automatic cloud syncing extends to your notes and highlights too—sign in on a new Kindle, and everything reappears.

You can also email notes and highlights to yourself from the export option on the Notes page on your Kindle. However, none of this applies if you’re adding notes and highlights to DRM-free ebooks that you’ve loaded on to your Kindle from other sources—these do need backing up if you want to guard against the risk of losing them.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo

You’ve got a few options: Notes and highlights are visible on the web here, so you can just copy and paste them (or save the HTML), and they’ll also appear as a text file called “my clippings.txt” in the Documents folder, if you connect it to a computer. This file only contains the notes and highlights made on that particular device though.

There are a few tools worth mentioning that make the management and export of notes and highlights easier: Some work with the clippings text file, others with the Amazon webpage. Check out Klib on the Mac, on the web, or Bookcision for Chrome.

Games consoles

Some of your identity as a PlayStation player is saved in the cloud, but some aren’t. Your trophies, for example, can be synced to your PSN account—from the Trophies screen, hit the Options button on the controller, then pick Sync Trophies with PSN. If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, game saves can be synced to the cloud too, via Application Saved Data Management then Auto-Upload in Settings.

For just about everything else (or if you’re not a PlayStation Plus subscriber), you need to plug in an external hard drive formatted as FAT32 or exFAT via USB. This can be used to make a copy of the existing drive, should it die or get washed away in a flood. From Settings, choose System, Back Up and Restore, then Back Up PS4—follow the instructions and hey presto, you have your backup.

Photo: Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

On the Xbox One consoles, all your saves are automatically synced to the cloud via a free or premium Xbox Live account, so you don’t have to worry about them if your house burns down with your Xbox inside it—your online account keeps track of where you are in each of your purchased games.

You can still, if you want, back up Xbox settings and Xbox games to an external hard drive. For the former, from the Settings screen you need to choose Backup & transfer, then Back up my settings, and then Back up to device to choose the external drive. For the latter, from Settings choose System, Storage, pick the internal drive, and then Transfer.

Memory cards and USB sticks

Files you’ve got scattered across memory cards and USB sticks won’t necessarily be included in the backups run on your laptop or desktop computer, so you might have to manage these manually. If you’ve got a stack of memory cards you use with a digital camera, for example, you want to make sure the photos and videos they’re holding are regularly backed up.

This is just a question of transferring files across to your computer as regularly as you can: From there they can be backed up via whatever method you’re using for the rest of your files. Simply copying over the photos and videos or whatever else via Finder or Windows Explorer is the most straightforward option.

Image: SanDisk

Cloud storage clients like Google’s Backup and Sync and Dropbox will identify when a memory card or USB stick has been inserted in Windows or macOS, and immediately offer to back up the files the device contains—if you want something that’s as painless as possible, these are good places to start (though you’ll have to pay for cloud storage space as your files grow in number).

You could also connect memory cards and USB sticks up to a phone or tablet and transfer files over that way, if you’ve got the necessary adapters and dongles—iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 now support external storage, and most Android devices made in the last few years and running a recent version of Android do as well (though as always with Android, it varies from phone to phone). With the files transferred, apps like Dropbox, iCloud or Google Photos can then take care of the actual backing up.

Media streamers and boxes

You don’t need to back up your Chromecast, your Roku, or your Amazon Fire TV device, because there’s nothing really on them. If one gets lost, you just sign in to your various apps and accounts on a new one, and you’re back to where you were. It’s the same with a Roku device, with everything stored in the cloud.

In the case of an Nvidia Shield TV box, most if not all apps should rely on cloud saves and syncs—where data is downloaded locally, copies will be kept in the cloud should you ever need them again. If you’re using the Shield as a Plex server, you can’t back up the library as such, but you can move your library to an external drive and copy that as and when needed: Plex has detailed instructions here.

Image: Apple

If you’ve got an Apple TV box at home, again just about everything is up in the cloud for safekeeping. Any movies, TV shows or music that gets cached locally is always available again from the web should your box break or get stolen. The only problem you might run into is with games that don’t store saves in the cloud, but as yet there’s no real solution for this—you just have to risk losing your data.

If you’re using a NAS as a media server, remember to keep your files stored somewhere else as well: Many NAS drives can automatically duplicate hard disks, but that doesn’t really help if your NAS gets stolen or covered in a spilled cup of coffee. Look for software supplied with your drive that can handle the job of syncing files with another computer.