This is my first guide so please help me by providing feedback.
I see a lot of threads about backups. The simple truth of the matter is that unless its automated it wont get done on a regular basis. (at least for me ) So i decided to investigate options for automated backup.
I immediately ruled out CD/DVD backups due to size limitations of the media. My requirements at the time consisted of 30GB of photos and 10GB video. (Which has expanded rapidly since that time)
My goal for this project was to protect against drive failure.
I began to research software programs specifically designed for backups but they all fell short on one key requirement, that it be free. I decided to try an app that I use at work frequently for large directory transfers. Robocopy was developed by Microsoft and is distributed free of charge withing the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.
Don't worry, it will run on almost any version of windows. Go to this website. and download the resource kit it is around 11mb so if your on Dial Up grab some dinner while it downloads.. (If anyone has a link to robocopy without needing to download the entire resource kit let me know).
After installing the executables are located in ?:\Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools by default. The resource kit installs a lot of extra files that you wont be using. The files that we will be working with will be robocopy.doc and robocopy.exe. Robocopy is a command line utility that can either be run from a command prompt or from a batch file.
At this point you should open the robocopy.doc and get familiar with the concepts. The best way to start is by creating a .txt file. Copy and paste the following lines of test between Start and Stop. Do not include Start and Stop in the copy and pasted sections.
robocopy "C:\Pictures Working Directory" "D:\PhotoBackup" /E /ETA /Z /PURGE
I keep my working photo directory on my C: drive and backup my data to my external usb 2.0 160gb drive which is labeled D: in my computer. You can modify the directory's as you wish. Just keep in mind that the first is the source directory and the second is the destination directory.
Now lets look at the switches used. (Switches are the /something that you see at the end of the command in the batch file) Switches are used to modify how robocopy is executed and what it does. For example if we did not use any switches at all the files would copy. But I used several switches to get the additional functionality. The /E switch copies all sub-folders including empty ones. The /ETA switch turns on the progress indicator for each file being copied. The /Z switch copies each file in restartable mode. (Very useful if transferring over a network) And finally /PURGE which removes files and folders if they are not present in the source. (Caution needs to be used with this option. If you delete a folder in the source it WILL DELETE the folder in the destination)
Notice I threw in the defrag command. I use this for all of my hard drive that I have in my system. By doing this I am able to ensure they are operation at 100% efficiency.
The last step would be to rename the .txt file to .bat This will cause the file to be executable by windows. Execute the file and see if it works.
The first time it is run it may take a while depending on hardware. Subsequent backups will be faster because robocopy on copies changed files. so unless you change most of you files your backups will run in minutes. If the file worked as expected continue on to automation.
Now to automate the task. I used Windows task scheduler. It is accessed in Windows XP by clicking start - all programs - accessories - system tools - scheduled tasks.
Double Click "add a scheduled task" At this point the Scheduled Task wizard pops up. Click next. Click Browse and find the .bat file you just created. Click Open. Click the radio button next to the frequency that you would like the backup run. (I run the program nightly at 2:00 am)
Select a time for the backups to run and click Next.
Type in the username and password that will be used when the backup runs. (Make sure it is a Username with permissions to the files)
There you have it, my first guide. If I have missed anything or if you have any selections please let me know and I will update this guide. I can also post screenshots if anyone is interested or has a problem.
P.S. I appologize for any mistakes. I could not sleep so instead of doing some PP work I decided to write this. It is currently 5:00am and I am now very tired.