Use Google as a Backup Service for Windows

I was recently asked by a family member what tool I use for backup and recovery of my system.  At the time, I was using CrashPlan, which is a good service, but once my free year was up, the cost became an issue.  Now, with the exception of my video collection, I use Google for my windows backup needs.  Yes, Google.  Read on to see how.

google-plus-iconThose that follow this blog know that I recently discovered that all my photos were being automatically backed up to Google+ using the new Google+ Auto Backup tool and were being saved on G+.  All of these photos are put into private albums, so the public has no access to them unless you share the album or photo, so this got me thinking.

The vast majority of my photos are above the 2048×2048 free limit that Google gives you for photos, but I also have a grandfathered storage plan allowing me around 100GB for $20/year (they are nowhere near this good now).  I did a search on my local drive this morning and discovered 34GB of photos with over 60,000 files — that’s a lot of photos.  So 100-35 = 65GB left on my google storage.

I already use Google Music (with the all access service) to backup and listen to my music while mobile, so all 90 or so GB of my music is backed up, completely free of charge.  The only thing missing is a video backup service.  Yes, there is YouTube, but the vast majority of my videos are raw edits, b-roll, and ripped DVD’s, so the space requirement is huge and honestly, I don’t want the copyright headaches associated with YouTube and I don’t want to pay for the space, so until that changes, I suppose videophiles are out of luck.

My documents also get backed up using Google Drive.  Drive used to be Google Docs, but got a facelift a few years back and new name.  I won’t get into Drive too much as it’s pretty well known already, but I will mention that whatever you put into your Drive will count against your total Google storage space, so if you have lots of large documents, you may run into space issues down the line.

So with these three tools, I spend $20 per year and have all my photos, music and documents backed up to the cloud.  If you don’t take as many photos as I do, or you don’t mind a smaller size, you could conceivably backup all this for free.

If you want to set up a similar system, it couldn’t be easier, once you know where to look.  First and foremost, you must be using Chrome for the photo backup system to work.  If you aren’t already, head here and grab a copy.

One final note:  You will be REQUIRED to have a Google+ account for the photo backup to work.  You don’t necessarily have to use G+, but you are required to have one.  Same thing goes with a Google ID.

Photo Backup

Like I mentioned above, Chrome is required for this to work.  If you do not have Google Chrome yet, please download it now.  I’ll wait.

Great, now fire up Chrome and:

  1. Visit this link from inside Chrome
  2. Install the Google Photos app.Once installed, open the Google Photos app from the Apps page and sign in.  If you have any photos on G+, you will see them start to load. (I’m not sure if this step is necessary, but this is how I did it, so I’m putting it in here just in case)
    • Right-click on the grayed-out “Add to Chrome” button and select “Inspect Element”
    • In the bottom text editor that opens up, hit CTRL+F to search for webstore-button-disabled
    • Double-click on that highlighted text to select it. Then delete the text and press enter.
    • The “Add to Chrome” button will then turn blue and you can click to install it.
  3. Download and install Picasa.
  4. Back in windows, click Start | Programs | Google+ Auto Backup | Google+ Auto Backup
  5. Sign in and select your backup folders and any options.
  6. Done.


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Music Backup

Backing up your music library is super simple.

  1. Open Google Music (will open another tab so you can follow along)
  2. Sign in or Sign up
  3. Click the Gear Icon on the right and choose Upload Music (or click here if already signed into Google)
  4. Download and install the Music Manager
  5. Tell the manager where your music is and set any options you want
  6. Done.
Google Music Manager

Google Music Manager

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Documents Backup

Documents, like the other two, are really easy to set up — provided you have your folders organized ahead of time.  Be careful in this step because Drive backs up EVERYTHING that is placed into it, not just docs.  So if you have a random video or a few other files lurking in your documents folder, you may want to move them before going forward.  Having said all that, let’s proceed, shall we?

  1. Download Google Drive.
  2. During setup, choose advanced and select your documents folder as your Google Drive folder (if you miss this, its difficult to change later, so make sure you get this right.
    Google Drive Advanced Setup

    Google Drive Advanced Setup


  3. Set any options you want, but make sure that Start Google Drive is set.
  4. Press start sync and you are done.

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