How I Backup Everything

After my incident last week I was glad I’d just recently started backing everything up automatically. I figured it’d be a good tip to share. First of all, this is only for PC users, sorry.

backups-cartoon

Your best friend here is SyncToy. There’s lots of backup tools out there, but most aren’t free. If they are, then they probably aren’t any good. However, SyncToy is both free and awesome. So go download it.

A prerequisite to all of this is that you have another drive to backup to. You’ll likely want a large external hard drive (I’m using a 1TB drive) so that you leave yourself plenty of growing room. So let’s setup SyncToy to backup our drive.

Setting Up SyncToy

You could just backup your Documents folder or your Pictures, but if we’re gonna play it safe let’s just backup our entire C drive (or whichever your main drive is).

Create a New Folder Pair

Your Left Folder is going to be your regular drive with all your stuff on it (C drive). Your Right Folder is the backup (your external drive, probably).

Action

SyncToy gives you three options on how to backup.

  • Synchronize
  • Echo
  • Contribute

We don’t want to Synchronize files because if you ever accidentally deleted something it would be reflected on both drives. We want to save everything just in case.

Echo sends everything to the backup drive, but if you change a file or folder name on the original drive then those changes are reflected on both drives. This is an okay option, but again, I’d rather keep everything just in case. That’s why we’re doing this in the first place!

So, I’ve chosen Contribute as it just backs up everything. If you rename a file then you have the old name and the new name on the backup drive.

Scheduling Your Backup

I’d prefer to have everything backed up nightly, but you have the option to do whatever you want. However often you chose, here’s how to schedule on Vista or Windows 7. For other operating systems, use SyncToy’s help menu as this is just coped right from there anyway:

  1. From the Start menu, select All Programs – Accessories – System Tools – Task Scheduler.
  2. Select Create Basic Task in the Actions pane on the right.
  3. Add a Name and Description and select Next.
  4. Choose when you want the task to start and select Next.
  5. Choose date/times (if applicable) to run task and select Next.
  6. Choose Start a Program option and select Next.
  7. Select Browse and locate the SyncToyCmd.exe.
  8. Type -R in the Add Arguments textbox. -R all by itself will run all folder pairs that are active for run all. If you want to run just a single folder pair, add -R"My Pair" to the end of the command line.

Now you can sleep well. Of course, this is only one step. What if your office caught fire and your computer and backup drive were destroyed. You probably won’t ever face that problem, but you’d want to look into remote backups to play it safe. But at least taking this step is much safer than you were before!

Backups, You Better Have ‘Em

I‘m sitting on my office floor right now because I just finished installing a new hard drive and I’m waiting for Windows to reinstall.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that when I booted up my computer I was getting a message that one of my two hard drives had failed, but everything was still working fine so I did about five minutes of research and gave up.

Then I came home from Thanksgiving to a DOS screen that told me that no bootable drive could be found. It ran some tests and eventually worked. But just about anytime I left the room I came back to the error message and it became increasingly more difficult to boot up. Then it just wouldn’t boot at all.

So, I went and bought a new drive today (Windows just finished installing, so I’ll wrap this up soon) and I’m back in business.

Thankfully on Black Friday I noticed Target was selling 1TB external hard drives for $59.99 (that’s crazy!) so I got one and as soon as I got home started backing up all my data. I already have another external HD, but it was about to max out.

In the past I haven’t been so fortunate to have all my data backed up, but I made a concerted effort to backup everything this past year and it certainly paid off.

Make sure you’re backing up your computer and your website. It’s not a lesson worth learning the hard way.