Software & Apps Backup & Utilities What is Idle Backup? Idle Backup Can be a Helpful Feature to Enable in Your Backup Tool by Tim Fisher General Manager, VP, Lifewire.com Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tim Fisher Updated on May 24, 2019 Westend61 / Getty Images Backup & Utilities Design Cryptocurrency MS Office Windows Linux Google Drive Apps File Types Backup & Utilities View More Tweet Share Email Idle backup is a feature some cloud backup services support to back up your files when you're not using the computer, as opposed to running them all the time. What's the Benefit of Idle Backup? Whether you're backing up files online or using a backup tool to back up to something like an external hard drive, the backup software will require system resources to perform the backups. As the backup is occurring, the increased stress on the computer and/or network can cause poor performance when you try to perform other tasks. Idle backup can eliminate this by only backing up your files when you're away from your computer so that you don't notice the impact on performance. How Do Idle Backups Work? Applications that support idle backups will monitor CPU usage and only start/resume backups when usage falls below a certain threshold, after which the software assumes you're not using your computer, in which case the backups can run. Some backup programs simply lets you enable the idle backup option, without any advanced settings. Others will let you define how long you must be away from your computer before the backups can run. Some backup tools will even allow the CPU usage threshold to be manually set so you have even more control over when the idle backup feature takes effect. How Do Idle Backups Differ From Scheduled Backups? For example, say you schedule all backups to start when you leave for work at 9:00 AM. In this scenario, you wouldn't be using your computer after that time, so it'd be like an idle backup in that it's running while you're away. However, idle backups are beneficial in that they run each time you're not using the computer. You may get off your computer multiple times throughout the day, in which case the backups could run each time you're away, including while you're at work (or asleep, on break, etc.).