How To Back Up Windows to iCloud

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to automatically back up Windows files to iCloud, including a system image? It definitely is and here is how.

Accessing Windows File History and system images from iPhone

Many people out there own Apple products like an iPhone or a MacBook, with an iCloud account. Some, even pay for a storage plan that gives a lot of storage available for photos, videos, documents, etc.

Some of those, also make use of Windows machines for working and even for other side projects. And using different OS on different devices, sometimes with different architectures, makes it a bit harder to keep everything connected and organized in only one place.

Yes, Windows 10 comes with OneDrive ready to use. But come on… there are only 5GB of storage for free and you don’t want to subscribe to another plan from another company and finally end up having all your Windows files separate from your other files on your Apple devices.

Why not using only iCloud only, then?

Your are not going to have this feature by only installing iCloud on your Windows machine, but with a few tricks you will have the job done.

Let’s do it in 14 steps File History + System Image!

1- Download and install iCloud from Microsoft Store

2- Log into it using your iCloud credentials

3- In the iCloud settings, make sure the option iCloud Drive is selected

4- Go to you iCloud Drive and create a new folder for your backups (I put the model of my Lenovo Laptop)

5- Create a subfolder named “Backups” and make sure to enable and configure the advanced sharing, for at least 3 simultaneous users. Also, don’t forget to click on Permissions and give “Everyone” read and change permissions

6- Create a subfolder for your system images (only this subfolder inside the Backups folder)

7- Go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center -> Change advanced sharing settings

8- Make sure you enable the network discovery, file and printer sharing for Private and Guest profiles. In the All Networks profile, make sure the option Turn OFF password protected sharing is selected

9- It’s time to map the shared folder, so you have to open the CMD as an Administrator and type:

  • cd C:\Windows\System32 (supposing the drive letter is “C” the one where the OS is installed)
  • net use X: \\localhost\c$\Users\YOUR_USERNAME\iCloudDrive\YOUR_FOLDER\Backups (supposing the letter “X” isn’t being used yet, as well as the drive letter “c” is the one where the Windows OS is installed — don't forget to put your actual username instead of “YOUR_USERNAME” in the command and the path must follow the folders structure you created previously!
  • if the above did not work (system error XX occurred), try net use X: \\localhost\Backups. The error usually occurs if you did not follow all steps precisely or your Backups folder has shared parent folders. Remember that if “Backups” is the only shared folder in you machine, you will be able to access it directly after accessing \\localhost\Backups (no parent folders shared).

10- restart your machine, then make sure your machine is visible in the network, by opening a folder, then in the left sidebar, clicking on Network. Your computer must be shown there! If your computer isn’t showing, then go to Start Menu -> Settings -> Network & Internet -> HomeGroup -> Change network location -> and confirm by clicking “Yes” in the right sidebar that slides. This must solve the issue.

11- Go to Control Panel -> Settings -> System & Security -> File History -> Select a network location -> Add network location. Then, select the folder Backups and Click OK. After that, back to the Control Panel window, click on “Turn on”, to enable the File History.

12- Don’t forget to exclude from File History, folders like the iCloudDrive itself and iCloud Photos, so you avoid duplicating them in iCloud (remember they are already there).

It’s important to mention that Windows File History will only backup changes from now on. It means that if you have already files in your folders, they won’t be backed up, unless you take them off and put them back in a new folder, for example. Another workaround it to clean up every folder you want to back up, before turning on File History. After that, you could put your files and folder back to their original places.

13- Go to Control Panel -> System & Security -> Backup and Restore (Windows 7) -> Set up backup -> Save on a network -> Browse. Then navigate to your computer’s name, until you find the “system image” folder you created (inside “Backups”). Click OK. In the Username and Passwords fields, you type “admin” for both, then click OK.

14- On the next screen, make sure your drive and folder are highlighted, then click Next. From here, you can choose to let Windows manage the backup schedule and folders, or you can set it up manually. After that (on the next screen), click on Save settings and run backup.

That’s it! Now you have File History and/or a system backup all set up on iCloud (or any other service you might prefer).

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Julio Souto

I am something between a Software Engineer and a Solutions Architect, leading the Innovation department for DSV Brazil.