Automatd hard drive backup in XP?
December 15, 2003 7:33 PM   Subscribe

What's a good program to automate backing up one hard drive to another one on the same box in Windows XP?

Something that made a complete backup of certain folders every morning would be ideal.
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
Have you considered creating a RAID 0 array? It'll give you automatic mirroring, although there would be some hardware purchases involved.
posted by bshort at 8:05 PM on December 15, 2003

I think bshort means a RAID-1 array, which mirrors your data onto a second disk. It won't save you if you accidentally delete or overwrite something, but it will save you from a bad disk.

RAID-0 stripes your data across multiple disks for the speed benefits, but doesn't actually do any mirroring. You can combine the two (RAID-0+1) and get both striping for speed and mirroring for safety.
posted by hashashin at 8:10 PM on December 15, 2003

What I used to use when I faced a similar problem: robocopy, a batch file, and the "Scheduled Tasks" feature built in to the OS. With a little fiddling, you can make robocopy only actually have to copy things which have changed. You could do the same thing with more standard tools, though, like rsync [for win32].
posted by majick at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2003

rsync is the industry standard, but it's really used for Unix. There is a windows port around as well, AFAIK. I've also heard great things about unison, which is supposedly easier to use. Both are free, command line and require some manual reading, I haven't found one with a nice GUI that is not commercial.
posted by costas at 8:18 PM on December 15, 2003

I dont see why this is more complicated than using the scheduled tasks feature in windows (or use windows scheduler) and having it run a file called mybackups.bat which just has the contents:

copy c:\folder1\*.* e:\folder1\*.*
copy c:\folder2\*.* e:\folder2\*.*
posted by vacapinta at 8:33 PM on December 15, 2003

Although if you were to do that, I'd suggest you do:
xcopy /s /m /y c:\backitup\*.* z:\backups\

The /s copies subdirectories and their contents. The /m causes it to only copy those files with an "archive" bit set, then to clear the bit. (Touching the files causes the "archive" bit to reappear.) The /y makes it automated when overwriting.

But if'n it was me, I'd go with rsync due to its better handling of huge files, of which I have quite a few.
posted by majick at 8:42 PM on December 15, 2003

Backup4All does it for me... although having just looked at the site, it may now be a commercial bit o' ware. The freeware one I use rocks.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 PM on December 15, 2003

Handy Backup. It's cheap and very, very good.
posted by seanyboy at 12:41 AM on December 16, 2003

xcopy is the beast for you - use xcopy /? to get the options, then use some sort of task scheduler to call it.
posted by BigCalm at 1:40 AM on December 16, 2003

I don't actually want to mirror the whole drive, just the important bits (work files, mainly).

Will try with xcopy.

majick, what exactly does the "archive" attribute mean? How does it get set in the first place?

Thanks everybody. [ask mefi rules!]
posted by signal at 4:35 AM on December 16, 2003

Oops, yeah, RAID 1, not RAID 0.
posted by bshort at 4:40 AM on December 16, 2003

Good luck with xcopy.
The Archive attribute is set every time a file is changed, and unset every time that file is backed up. The upside of this is that to synchronise a directory, you only have to copy those files where the archive flag is currently "set"

All files that are known to be already synchronised are not copied. (thus saving on bandwidth and time)
posted by seanyboy at 5:44 AM on December 16, 2003

Is file size an issue when copying to another hard drive on the same box?
posted by signal at 5:50 AM on December 16, 2003

it's not much of an issue, but if the amount of time the backup takes is important, then it''s a consideration.
Try the xcopy (as suggested), and if it takes too long, then investigate other possibilities.
posted by seanyboy at 6:42 AM on December 16, 2003

Maybe it's just Windows XP Pro (maybe not), but in Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools is a Microsoft program called "Backup." It can do scheduling, compresses the files, and works just fine. I back up my 60 gig laptop drive to an external 120 every couple weeks with USB2, and it generally takes only an hour or two.
posted by gramcracker at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2003

Skallas -- file system corruption is a problem with RAID as the corruption gets mirrored. It's not a common problem though, but it did happen to me once long ago (Solaris 2.1) we lost both mirrors.
posted by stbalbach at 7:07 AM on December 17, 2003

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