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.

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).


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!

8 replies on “How I Backup Everything”

I keep my most important Design Files and Project related stuff on Dropbox and Skydrive.

For tutorials and important documents.. roughly 300 GB, I use a Backup External HDD.

Finally all the other movies and music, which i wont care if i loose, I dont backup. It amounts to around 4 TB, which is a difficult task in itself.

On other note, I am liking what you are doing with Hybrid Themes. Keep up the good work.

Regards TJ

Phew…4TB of movies and music?! I guess it wouldn’t take too long for movies to add up to that amount.

I’ve tried Dropbox a couple of times, but I never keep up with it. Plus I haven’t wanted to upgrade to a paid account which I would need to do immediately with all the stuff I’d want to keep there.

Why use Dropbox and Skydrive, by the way?

This is good, but I’ve done the online backup thing too. No good having a HDD backup if the house burns down and burns the backup drive too. Same for theft. I use Carbonite, but haven’t researched the services available in quite some time.

An MSFT back-up program? You are a gambler. My experience with MSFT is consistent since 1987, whenever under the gun, facing a deadline, or in an emergency, their software fails. (your HD?)

MSFT software and OS is unstable, insecure, continuously up-dated, patch work, lacking imagination, bloated, error-ridden, over-priced, without logic in user interfaces, writes too many temp files, leaves trash all over the HD, crashes, locks up, and is just plain annoying.

The worst is having their licensed software (Office 2007, for example) and trying to re-install only to get a message that a crucial OS file is missing. Go to download that file and another error message, that drives me up the wall, is “you must up-date to file version X.y. When you try to download that, there is another error message that you cannot because you have a more recent version of that file already installed. (True experience.) Or, how about having to read through 6 or 7 pages mundane senseless dribble and irrelevant downloads to find a short hidden reference to the fact that you cannot have Office 2003 and Office 2007 installed on the same drive. (Yet, I just had that for years.) Does anyone at MSFT even think? I’ll take WordPerfect 8.0 (their worse version) over Office any day of the week and twice on weekend days. (Open Office is getting there.)

With all the rouge geniuses in the IT world, why are we still even talking about MSFT?

In short, give me anything, any software, that is not MSFT conceived, and I’ll gladly try it. But to rely on the unreliable for critical back-ups, no thanks. Even for free, I’ll pass on MSFT software. Snake oil…. Just say “NO!” to MSFT. (Hint: why are back-ups recommended if the OS is adequate? It is not. See above.) Disclaimers: No, I do not compute on fruit machines. I never have been nor will ever be a MSFT employee. I have no interest in, make no fee, and do not work for Corel. This message is not MSFT approved.

Doktor, sure sounds like you’ve been burned one too many times. My Microsoft experience hasn’t been quite as riddled with unpleasantness. My recent HD failure on by Dell and Seagate’s part.

Nevertheless, I don’t make a point of promoting MS and am certainly not an advocate for Apple either. I simply use the best, most affordable soft/hardware available to me and within my knowledge.

Vista’s backup software included with Windows Ultimate and Business has done the job for me. I wish I knew how to restore MySQL databases though. Was able to figure out how to make a backup, but I client crashed his and I couldn’t quite figure out how to restore it. A MySQL database backup and repair/restore blog entry would be very nice ^_^

PS New portfolio in the works

Lost 5 years of emails last week because I only backed up my data files .

Thanks for the tips and trying SyncToy as I type.

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