Computer Tips

October 19th 2010

Backup Made Easy - SyncToy

Your data is important - Run a Backup

Most people don't realize how valuable the data on their hard drive is until it's too late. Things such as music, important documents, receipts, e-mail, favorites and photos are important - imagine having to download every song you've ever downloaded over again upon a system crash? Take some time to think about it and come up with a plan.

Take some time and organize your files!

Organization of your data is the first step in setting up an effective backup. Take 15 minutes - go through the programs on your computer one at a time and find the ones you actively use. Where is the data for these programs stored? Most word processing programs save your documents in the "My Documents" folder. Some programs, like e-mail clients, might not store the information here though. It will be important to track down all of these files.

Try to reorganize your files as best as you can. Perform copy and pastes and get all that information in one place. Once you've confirmed the information is there, you may want to delete the originals so that you don't confuse the two folders. Once you have your information in one place, you're ready to backup.

SyncToy is an easy way to backup

You can download SyncToy on CNET's download page.

Buy an external hard drive!

The prices of hard drives have significantly dropped in the past few years. The price of data storage is so cheap - capitalize and spend less than $100 on an external hard drive. Most users do not have a lot of data - even if they download music. I consider myself an avid music downloader and I only have 17.6 GB of music. A 100GB external hard drive should be more than enough - even if you are backing up multiple computers!

Setup the synchronization

Now that you have an external hard drive, hook it up to the computer and create a folder for your backup - I have mine simply labeled "PixelPro". Now you can select the folders in SyncToy - make the left folder the "My Documents" folder(or wherever you are storing all of your data), and make the right folder the backup folder you created on the external hard drive.

Run that Backup

Even though you now have your backup configured to run, you need to make sure that you run it on a regular basis. I find that manual backups seem to work best. If you know you've made a lot of changes recently, plug in your external hard drive and back up. Try to create a schedule - maybe once or twice a month.

You can setup SyncToy to backup automatically on a schedule

SyncToy can be configured to backup on a schedule. It is a little bit complicated, but used effectively can have a great benefit. For example, PixelProgression's backups are configured to run 7 days a week. Each day copies the updated files to a new folder. By doing this, I can restore up to 7 previous versions of files. This way, if I make a mistake on a file on Wednesday, I can restore a version from Monday or Tuesday - or even earlier. Contact PixelProgression for advice on configuring an automatic backup.