- a copy or duplicate version, especially of a file, program, or entire computer system, retained for use in the event that the original is in some way rendered unusable.
- a procedure to follow in such an event.
Origin of backup
usage note for backup
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH backupback up, backup
Words nearby backup
MORE ABOUT BACKUP
What does backup mean?
A backup is a person or thing that supports another, as in My role as the backup for the sales team is to take calls when the rest of the team is busy.
Backup is a noun form of the verb phrase back up, which means to support or assist.
A backup is also a person or thing kept in reserve as a substitute, as in The backup for the cake I’m making is the apple pie in the freezer.
A backup is also an overflow or accumulation caused by a blockage or stoppage, such as a car backup on the highway when there’s an accident further ahead on the road.
Backup also describes a person or thing that acts as a backup, as with backup dancers, a backup generator, a backup food supply, and a backup plan.
Example: Bring in some backup workers to help assist the customers lined up outside the door.
Where does backup come from?
The first records of the term backup come from the 1770s. It comes from the verb phrase back up, meaning “to support or assist.”
In computing, backup has a specific meaning. It refers to a copy of the data, such as photos and text files, created in case of data loss or technology malfunction. More technically, a backup on a computer refers to a compressed copy of all files on a system that is stored to an external disk and that can be used to rewrite a system’s files back to the time of the backup.
Did you know … ?
How is backup used in real life?
Backup is a common word used in reference to something that supports or that overflows.
Standing down today due to a sensor issue; backup launch opportunity tomorrow morning.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 30, 2017
Got everything set up and then backed up my laptop, all my photos and videos from my (kinda full) phone, and also everything that I'm currently syncing to Dropbox. Once openmediavault was good to go, all the backups took like, 10 minutes. Super easy.
— Caleb Figgers (@CalebFiggers) December 16, 2021
Supply chain. Backups at the port of LA. Thousands of shipping containers on ships waiting to unload. COVID impacting everything, I guess?
— Joel Rosen (@jrosen) December 16, 2021
Try using backup!
Is backup used correctly in the following sentence?
Be sure to backup all photos on your phone so you don’t lose them.
How to use backup in a sentence
It typically takes days to get results back, and backups at labs can drag the process out for a week or two.New coronavirus tests promise to be faster, cheaper and easier|Jack J. Lee|August 31, 2020|Science News
They have to be pretty confident they have someone to replace Mayer if they didn’t even get him to stay as a backup.TikTok’s most vocal defender is now its new interim CEO|Naomi Xu Elegant|August 27, 2020|Fortune
Using new technologies and backup power sources, Winn said SDG&E has also taken steps to reduce the number of customers who lose power this year.
At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, when my insurance wouldn’t allow me to get a backup supply of the insulin I need to live, I received eight vials in the mail from my friend Rena.How high prices for diabetes care amplify health inequities|Annalisa van den Bergh|July 15, 2020|Quartz
As a backup, researchers should also consider using a less tested freeze-drying technique known as lyophilization.Scientists want to build a Noah’s Ark for the human microbiome|Carolyn Beans|June 11, 2020|Science News
Sometimes, they had a backup aim if their main goal fell through as the night dragged on.The Craziest Date Night for Single Jews, Where Mistletoe Is Ditched for Shots|Emily Shire|December 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In early October, Health Republic allowed me to submit a “grievance claim” which I filed, along with a pile of backup documents.
At 12:02 p.m., Wilson called in his location and asked the dispatcher for backup.
Backup dancers materialize, sparking a torrent of eye-catching choreography.The Making of Kiesza: From Navy Sharpshooter to Beauty Queen to Pop Diva|Marlow Stern|October 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
She retreated into the lobby, but only to call for backup and an ambulance.Manhunt for a Cop-Hating Pennsylvania ‘Survivalist’|Michael Daly|September 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
She could swap out a dead bot for a backup in five minutes flat, which is all that crowd-control would permit.
My cochlea struck twelve noon and a HUD appeared with my weekly backup reminder.
My next-most-recent backup was three years old, dating from the completion of my second symphony.
I stopped in front of the backup terminal in the gateway between Liberty Square and Fantasyland.
I had prepared a written synopsis of the events since her last backup for her, and she read it over the next couple days.
British Dictionary definitions for backup
- a reserve or substitute
- (as modifier)backup troops
- musical accompaniment, esp for a pop singer
- (as modifier)backup singer
Other Idioms and Phrases with backup
Move or drive a vehicle backward, as in He told her to back up into the garage. [First half of 1800s]
Bring or come to a standstill, as in The water had backed up in the drains, or The accident had backed up traffic for miles. [First half of 1800s]
Support or strengthen, as in The photos were backed up with heavy cardboard so they couldn't be bent, or I'll back up that statement of yours. [Second half of 1700s]
Duplicate a file or program so that the original is not lost. For example, Every computer manual warns you to back up your work frequently in case of a power outage or computer failure. [Second half of 1900s]