Looking for software to perform incremental backups

Jon_Are

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Here's the situation: I have a 160 GB external drive that I use to back up documents, photos, and music files. But I have no way to do incremental back-ups; I'm looking for software that will make this automatic and painless.

This is what I envision:

I set the software to perform, say, a weekly back-up of selected directories. Come back-up time, the software recognizes that, since the last back-up, I've added eight music files, 25 photoes, and revised three Word documents. It leaps to action, adding these 36 files to the existing previously-backed-up file on my external drive.

I currently have Buffalo Easy Backup to Hard Drive, version 1.01, but it doesn't seem to do incrementals.

Thanks for any advice.

Jon
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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There are several ways you can go here.

One would be something like Acronis True Image. That can create a full backup image of your hard drive, allowing you to do a so-called bare metal restore - ie, restore the machine without first installing any operating system. That software also has a feature to do incrementals.

If you want to keep it as simple as possible and to keep your dependency on other programs beyond the operating system as minimal as possible, you could use a plain synching program. These will compare two locations and copy over the missing bits.

In the latter category, one really good product I've tried (it's 30 day shareware so grab your own copy from http://www.tgrmn.com/) is Viceversa Pro. It uses normal file copying, with optional CRC checking, to synch folders and it can do it on an automated schedule to make sure it gets done.

Another product that is quite good would be Second Copy (http://www.centered.com/) which behaves similarly.

Both of these just do file copies, so they don't do the backup in some odd format that requires you to have a client to restore them, you can just browse the backup from the Windows explorer like you would any other files.
 

Jon_Are

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Thanks a ton, Kimmo.

I like the looks of Second Copy - have you used it before?

Jon
 

SethH

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A very solid free solution is Microsoft's SyncToy. It has a horrible name and is made by a horrible company, but it's actually a very, very good product.

To make it completely automated you have to use Windows Scheduler too, but here are instructions in the help file for SyncToy.

I use this and it has worked really well for me.
 

KeithAP

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If none of the other suggestions work for you, Microsoft's Live OneCare product which includes antivirus and antispyware software also has a backup module. I have often seen it on sale for less than $20 and the license is good for 3 systems for a year. You can download it and try it for 90 days to see if it meets your needs.

-Keith
 

Ronald Epstein

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I use Acronis True Image and it has absolutely saved
my ass many times when my computer took a dump.

Simply, during backup, it takes a snapshot of your system.

I have had at least 3 crashes where I had to totally reformat
my computer. The first thing I do after the format is to
install Acronis True Image and restore the backup image from
my external drive. My computer is then restored to its original state.

Backup software and an external drive are probably the two
best investments you can make for yoyur computer.
 

Joseph Bolus

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Believe it or not, WinZip Pro Version 10 has all the features you need to do complete backups and incrementals, and it even includes built-in CD and DVD burning software, allowing it to spread the backup over several DVD's when required. (You seemingly wouldn't require that particular feature, but it's nice to know that it's there!) The "Build Jobs" Wizard allows for visual "Explorer Style" drive, folder, and file selection; and even allows for custom file exclusion lists. It's really pretty nice for the money.
 

Paul_Sjordal

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Not for everyone. I don't have much personal data (it fits on a couple of CDs or one DVD), and the data doesn't change very often, so I can easily keep things backed up by manually burning a DVD every now and then. In the event of a crash I don't really lose all that much.

If your backup needs are simple and infrequent, then backup software merely complicates things, because you have to reinstall the backup application to restore, whereas all I need to do right now is click and drag right from within Windows Explorer (to copy the relevant files over).
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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I've used Second Copy a bit but not enough to warrant registering it. It seems like a solid solution, but so is Viceversa Pro - if that is the type of software one decides to use, either would probably serve just fine.

There is also a program called Beyond Compare that can be useful for manual comparison and syncing of folders. It can compare more than just file trees, too. It's over at http://www.scootersoftware.com/ and it's also shareware so you get to try it for 30 days. Not everyone needs something like that but if you do need it it's great.

True Image and these copiers/syncers are really different products. For most people, having both in use might make sense.

True Image is good because you can back up to auto-booting optical disc (DVD or CD-ROM) and then don't have to do anything beyond shoving the CD into the computer and start restoring right away, so it's not as work intensive as restore from a more traditional backup software can be.

True Image could thus be used to back up the operating system and all that stuff and then using the other programs I mentioned to copy data files (images, MP3's, etc) to external storage periodically. The big advantage to these copy programs is that the data is stored as-is, no need to have any third party software at all to access the data if your machine goes entirely belly-up.
 

Jon_Are

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I'm leaning toward Second Copy because it's the data files that I'm worried about - many photos, many music files, and other stuff that would send me to the top of the nearest tall building were I to lose it (if I lost the photos, my wife would drag me to that building).

The way I see it, if the primary hard drive were to turn ugly, I'd want to do a clean format and re-install all the programs anyway. I'd look at that as a good opportunity to start over with a clean slate. And of course, all my irreplaceable data files would be waiting for me on the external drive.

Jon
 

Steve_Pannell

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FWIW, I use Second Copy regularly and I like it a lot. If you go with this read the instructions carefully. I didn't pay attention to what I was doing one time and deleted some files accidentally. But once you get it set up the way you want it, it's great.

Another similar program is FileSync. I use it to synchronize my file between my desktop and laptop.
 

drobbins

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I have been using SyncToy to back up 2 computers with each other for about a year now. It is set to run at night so system resources is not an issue. Oh yea, its free.
 

Chris

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True Image 10 has a lot of features that come in handy - including options to save just data.. but not just data, settings too. So, yes, it'll grab your PST, your Outlook Express, your Mozilla, etc. but it also preserves saved usernames/passwords/account settings.

Some of that comes in handy. The fact that version 10 manages to figure out data store for a lot of third party software is a major plus. A good product keeps getting better.
 

Jon_Are

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I went with Second Copy and am 100% satisfied; it does exactly what I need, in exactly the way I want (at least after the first overnight test run).

Where previously I would manually back up my stuff every 3-4 months or so, now it gets done daily and automagically.

I appreciate everyone's input.

Jon
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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Glad you found a good solution for you.

When it comes to images and such, I would definitely recommend that you buy a pack of good DVD+R discs and burn them out to those, too. That will safeguard you from things like accidental erasure too, can't erase off DVD recordables. Usually an image collection is still in the size range where you can burn them out to disc, and then burn a new disc regularly when you've added another 4 gigs of images, for archival purposes.

No such thing as too many copies of any given file, after all.

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway) those discs should then be stored somewhere that is not your house. Even if you have 5 copies, that doesn't do much for you when you're standing in the smouldering remains of what was once your home (though I sincerely hope that will never happen, of course!)

Hardware is cheap and replaceable, clothes and furniture can be rebought and kitchen utensils are kitchen utensils, but data once lost is irreplaceable, and in these days especially where we store images and such on digital media it becomes important to have multiple copies in multiple locations, just in case.
 

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