Tips for backing up your PC
Download & Install SyncBack
- The reason I like SyncBack most for backups is because it is simple and easy to get at the backed up files. With many other backup solutions I need the backup software installed to open the backup archive file before I can even get to the file I want. That’s a big pain if my computer just died!
- The free version of SyncBack is here: http://www.2brightsparks.com/downloads.html#freeware
- 2BrightSparks.com has paid versions also. One of the advantages of the paid version is that it backs up locked files or in use files. The free version cannot.
Get an external hard drive
- Most major hard drive vendors sell external hard drives as well. The drives come as two types.
- The first type connects to your computer with a USB or FireWire cable.
- The second type of external drive connects to your network with an ethernet cable. While it costs more a network attached hard drive allows more than one computer to use it without swapping cables or moving the drive. Consider this if you backup more than one computer.
- The links below are to Newegg.com but you can get the drives at BestBuy, Staples and most office supply stores as well.
- Western Digital My Book — USB & FireWire
- WD My Book World Edition — ethernet
Getting everything set up
- Plug in the external hard drive
- Create a folder on the new hard drive for the backups. Call it something like F:\Backups (if the new drive is F:). Create more than one folder if the drive is for multiple PCs or people like F:\Mom’s, F:\Dad’s, F:\Kids, etc.
- Start SyncBack and create a new Profile with the New button.
- Select Backup for the profile type.
- Give the backup profile a name like ‘Dave’s Backup’.
- Select the Source like ‘C:\Users\Dave\Documents\’ (in Windows XP it might look like C:\Documents and Settings\Dave\My Documents\)
- Select the Destination like ‘F:\Dave’s Backup\Documents\’
- Under the Simple tab I usually select Backup the source directories files, including selected sub-directories which allows me to choose which sub-folders. Since the videos and music folders are huge I back them up separately. If you just want backups of all sub-folders select the option above this.
- Under the Copy/Delete tab check Verify that files copied correctly and Force the file modification date & time to be correct…
- Select the Sub-directories tab. Depending on how many sub-folders you have it can take a few seconds to scan. Go through the list and uncheck the folders that you do not want backed up. Check the box that says, “Do not automatically check/uncheck parent and sub-directories.” I found that folders containing temporary stuff was getting checked automatically.
- Click the Ok button to save the profile.
- Answer Yes to allow SyncBack to run simulation of the new backup profile. Don’t worry, it isn’t backing everything up yet.
- When you are ready select the backup profile and click the Run button. The first time you run the backup profile the process takes longer because it backs up everything. After the first full backup SyncBack only copies new files and the files that changed. This is another reason I like SyncBack — the process runs fast. Traditional backup software backs up everything, every time. When the backup is quicker it is more likely to get done!
- If you want SyncBack can schedule profiles to run automatically at specified times. You can schedule it to run Nightly or Weekly or Monthly, etc. Do this! When automated you do not need to worry about forgetting.
- Windows Home Server – HP and other vendors sell Home Servers ($250 – $800). One of the features is to give backup storage accessed over your home network. I haven’t played with this yet. Folks that I’ve talked to love the HP Home Server. The thing they like the most is that it is brain-dead simple. The HP has Mac friendly features in their version so if you have OSX Leopard or Snow Leopard you can use the HP with Time Machine. (Time Machine is Apple’s integrated solution similar to SyncBack)
- Carbonite – Carbonite, Mozy, JungleDisk, etc. offer online backup. You install their client software on your PC and the software backs up your files to the cloud.