Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Everyone using a PC should be aware of the importance of backups by now (if you're not, then a - welcome back from the caves friendo, the war is over, and b - backups are important if you give a damn about your data), but probably don't maintain any discipline in managing backups and consequently don't do it nearly as often as they should. Well, Windows users should consider using Synctoy, an excellent piece of software from Microsoft. Now that you're done doing a double take, let me say again - Microsoft has made an excellent piece of software! This one comes under their Power Toys line, a selection of useful little applications that make life easier for Windows users (we need all the help we can get).

As the Wikipedia article explains
SyncToy is a free PowerToy designed by Microsoft that provides an easy to use graphical user interface that can automate synchronizing files and folders. It is written using Microsoft's .NET framework.

SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another. SyncToy can keep track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.

It's been around for a while, but I've only recently started using it and it has completely eliminated the need for my old fashioned manual process, which started off as adequate but steadily grew to be a massive headache to carry out. The software is fast, intuitive, and does what it says on the box and it shouldn't take more than 15-30 minutes to install and set up backup folder 'pairs'. There's a bunch of fairly straightforward options that can be configured with ease, and it provides a useful preview button so that you can see what it's about to do (in case you're paranoid and worried that it'll overwrite your secret stash of whatever it is you're into). The actual backing up (or synchronising) is simply a matter of clicking one (or two, if you preview) button.

Important point to note. Backing stuff up onto the same hard disk is useful if you want to have older versions of your software available, but is useless for recovering your data if your computer gets screwed or the disk breaks down. I personally use a second hard disk to back stuff up, plus a USB flash drive for all the extra important stuff. Given the capacity and price of flash drives, that's probably the optimal solution, unless one is backing up gigabytes of data, like digital photos (which ought to be backed up to DVD or CD, really).

Anyway, my backup process has now been reduced to a few clicks once a week, and I'm a much happier chipmunk as a result. Synctoy is a godsend - this is one Microsoft product that I can wholeheartedly recommend! Although, if it somehow winds up eating my hard drive and destroying my data, there may be another blog post on this topic in the future!


alyssa said...

thanks for reading and commenting my blog. I started it more for me than anything, but it was nice to have an outside input for once.

Cloverfield is interesting in it's range of reviews...and I'm not saying it was a terrible movie. It just wasn't one of my favorites. Then again, I'm not a monster-movie buff, either.

Thanks for the tip on Synctoy, too.

Arman oDesk said...

GSCopy Pro v6.0 (RoboCopy Alternative) with Open File Agent
GSCopyPro is a single command-line tool (CLI) that can copy, replicate and move files from one folder to another. This folder can be on the same machine/ server or another server elsewhere. What makes GSCopyPro stand out from other competitors is the fact it works on 32-bit as well as 64-bit systems and has no restrictions. It can easily be scheduled to run as a scheduled task and fully automated. GSCopyPro also comes with an open file agent which can copy files that are locked/ opened by other processes. This feature is supported in all windows versions from widows XP/ 2003 and later.
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