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Wise Tech Tips

Backup your data with SyncBack


By James Wise
web posted June 8, 2009
EDGEFIELD – Are you backing up your data yet? We’ve talked about some ways of doing this in previous columns. Today, we’ll talk about SyncBack, the free program I use for backing up the data my computers. SyncBack is a free, easy to use, feature rich program for synchronizing or backing up folders.

You can download it here. Better still, the AppSnap program we covered recently (http://www.edgefielddaily.com/wisetechtips050409.html) can install it. There are some other paid versions of the program as well with some nice additions but for our purposes, we’ll be using the free version.

After installing the program, you’ll need to decide what you want to back up and where you will put the backup. For this column, I am backing up the standard “my documents” location for files and I’m storing my backup on an external drive (e:\backup\laptop\daily). Just make sure you use locations based on your needs.

Setting up a backup with SyncBack
1)    Click on “Start”, “All Programs”, “2BrightSparks”, “SyncBack”, “SyncBack”
2)    Click on “Profiles”, “New” (or just say yes when the program first runs and finds you don’t have any profiles).
3)    Select “Backup” and click “OK”
4)    Enter a name for your profile (e.g. “Daily Data Backup to USB Drive”) and click “OK”
5)    Source = “C:\Documents and Settings\” (when you use the “my documents” folder on Windows XP. For Windows Vista, use “c:\users”).
6)    Destination = “E:\Backup\Laptop\Daily”
7)    All the other settings should be okay but you can modify these as needed for your situation.
8)    Click “yes” to perform a simulated run. You could skip this step (i.e. click “no”) but if in doubt, let this run so that you can be sure what will happen.
9)    If you run a simulation, you’ll see a screen showing which files would have been copied. Click “continue simulation” to close this screen
10)    To run this backup, just right click on the profile name, and choose “run”. A summary screen will appear showing what will happen. Assuming you agree with this, click “continue run”.
11)    I recommend running the backup manually once just to be sure you are happy with the results. After you are, you can setup a schedule for the profile by right clicking the profile, and choosing “schedule”.
12)    Click “yes” to create a schedule
13)    Click “OK”
14)    Click the “set password” button and enter your Windows password as needed.
15)    Click the “schedule” tab and choose when you want the backup to run (e.g. Daily at 2:00 AM, every 1 day) and click “OK”, “OK”.

Just choose a schedule that works for your needs. Of course the computer must be on and the backup location must be available. You can backup more or less often depending on the data at hand. For example, I use my laptop every day and I consider the email on it (which changes every day) as critical. As a result, I back that computer up every night. My desktop doesn’t change as often so I only back it up every week. If I do something to it like uploading a lot of pictures from my camera to it, I might go ahead and manually run my backup at that time.

If you want to decrease the size of your backup, you can use the filter option in the profile to filter out files you don’t want to backup each day. For example, you could modify the profile, go to the filter tab, and add “Temporary Internet Files” to the directories not to copy box.

By default, if a file has been backed up and is then deleted from your original folder, that file will still be included in the backup. This could be useful but you’ll have to keep this in mind as you may need to do some house cleaning of your backup folder every once and a while. If you want to have the backup delete files from the backup location which you no longer have in your normal directory, use the advanced tab and under “What to do if a file is in the destination but not in the source” select “Delete file from destination” instead of “Do nothing, skip the file”.

For further protection, you could right click the profile and choose copy to create weekly and monthly versions of the backup (just be sure to change the destination and schedule). This way, if you made a bad change to a file and didn’t catch it until later, you would hopefully still have a good copy of it (in the weekly or monthly backup).

The program can also backup to an FTP server (for “online” backup off site) and you can set it up to email a log of your backup. If you have more than one PC and you would like to keep a folder synchronized between computers, SyncBack can also help you with this. These are more advanced options which we won’t be covering for now but if you like more information about this, just email me or use the program’s help option (accessed by using the help button in the program or by hitting the F1 key). 

In our upcoming backup summary column, SyncBack will be used for a major part of our overall plan including backing up each computer in the house to a central computer (over a network) and then backing up that central computer (with the backup files from all the other computers) to an external USB drive.




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Parting Shots
A book by Columnist Carl Langley

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