If My Entire Computer Dies, How Can I Get My Files Restored?

What Are My Options for Restoring My Files If I Can't Use My Computer?

Illustration of a sinking ship
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How do you get your files back that you're storing with your online backup service if you have no access to your computer anymore, like after a major system crash?

The following question is one of many you'll find here in my Online Backup FAQ.

"If my entire computer (or ‚Äčanother device I'm backing up) dies, how do I restore everything I backed up? Won't that take a long time?"

With most online backup services, the easiest way to restore everything you've ever backed up would be to install and then use the online backup software on your new computer or device to restore whatever it is you'd like to restore.

If you don't have a new computer or device yet, but still need access to your backed up data, your other option is to access the service's web-based restore from some other working computer and select some or all of your data for restoring.

You can read more about both of those options in my How Do I Restore a Backed Up File? piece.

To your second question about the time it'll take: yes, since you're downloading all of your files, it will probably take a long time. How long exactly depends on a number of factors, most importantly how much data you have backed up that you're planning on restoring.

If the time that may be required to restore your data concerns you, you may be happy to hear that some cloud backup services also offer an offline restore option. This is an additional service, usually for a fee, where you can have a storage device, like an external hard drive or large flash drive, shipped to you with all your data on it.

You can see which of my favorite online backup services offer this by looking for the Offline Restore Option(s) feature in my Online Backup Comparison Chart.

Having your data shipped to you overnight is one of the few times that transferring data via a package delivery service is likely to be much faster than doing so over your Internet connection.

Here are more questions I answer as part of my Online Backup FAQ: