I need the basics of backing things up.
August 5, 2007 10:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a way to efficiently back up a large, ever changing folder periodically. I believe what I want is something that does a "mirror backup" but only when I want it to. Do programs like these exist? Any recommendations?

Ok, so, all my music (quite a lot) is in my iTunes music folder, which of course automatically creates folders and moves the files around based on their artist and album. A large chunk of my collection has mis-labeled artists/albums, and in my free time I am correcting the information, which moves the files around, creates new folders, deletes old ones, etc.

I am also periodically backing this all up as I make changes to it and even add more music on occasion. The problem is that whenever I back it up, instead of a mirror of my iTunes folder, the backup just adds in whatever folders were created, or copies files into new folders, all the while leaving the leftovers of the way my iTunes folder used to look.

I feel like I'm being vague, so I'll give an example.

I have Folder A which is empty and Folder B which has a file in it. I back these up. Originally there was a file in folder B, I move it to Folder A. I then back it up again. I end up with Folder A and the file and Folder B ALSO still containing the file. This is just one example.

Basically I'm just wondering if there was a way to make a backup that looks just like my iTunes folder does, without all the extra leftover crap. I know that I can just do a "full" backup, but due to the limited size of my hard drive in comparison to my music, this entails me deleting all the music on my backup hard drive so that it is empty, and then adding in the files again. I'm sure theres a more efficient way than this.

I have Cobian, I've tried doing something like this with that but nothing has worked so far. Are there other programs (possibly free?) that do what I'm asking. My google search just confused me. It's highly possible I'm just being stupid and computer illiterate.

Thank you! Sorry for the length!
posted by Defenestrator to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
rsync, via rsnapshot
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 PM on August 5, 2007

posted by iamabot at 10:56 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding rsync. I use it to back up my music collection and pictures of my kids to a portable drive (that I otherwise keep off-site.) Of course, it helps that the directories I want to back up are on a Debian linux box.
posted by davejay at 10:57 PM on August 5, 2007

I just read this article this morning and decided to check out the software.

**Correction: I started reading this article this morning, downloaded and installed the software and forgot all about the article.

SyncBack is a well thought out backup utility that can do all that you are requesting and more. Very flexible.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 11:04 PM on August 5, 2007

Nth-ing rsync (or one of it's GUI-wrappers). It does exactly what you're looking for, and there are about a zillion tutorials on the web. You don't say what OS you're on, but there are great alternatives for any platform.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:10 PM on August 5, 2007

I'm using XP. The jargon on the rsnapshot site went over my head a little and wasn't as straightforward as the instructions on the article B(oYo)BIES put up, so I just decided to try that one first.

Thank you all for your recommendations though.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:19 PM on August 5, 2007

I back up my iTunes-organized mp3 collection using Microsoft's own SyncToy powertoy.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:37 PM on August 5, 2007

It's not free, but I heartily recommend Second Copy (works on XP).

When creating a job, you can choose to do an "Exact Copy", which copies from source to destination and deletes obsolete files from destination.

So continuing your example, Second copy would delete the file in Folder B because it is "obsolete".

In addition, the Advanced Properties tab has an option "delete empty folders after copy". The help file says that option will remove empty sub folders from source & destination after copy.

A 30 day trial is available for Second Copy.

Note: Doing "exact copies" implies you are essentially nuking your backup each time, i.e., always assuming that your source is perfect. Think carefully about this particular method. If you mess up something in your source and the backup program runs before you catch your mistake, you are hosed.

PS: Second Copy's support for FTP and slow network drives is quite bad, so I wouldn't use Second Copy if your backup drive is not a local disk (like an external hard drive).
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek at 11:39 PM on August 5, 2007

I'll second SyncToy. Extremely easy to use.
posted by gfrobe at 12:40 AM on August 6, 2007

Email me at shizah realm304 com if you need assistance.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 1:52 AM on August 6, 2007

AllwaySync has a "propagate deletions" option that will do what you ask.
posted by Myself at 4:18 AM on August 6, 2007

You might also look into Robocopy, using the /MIR switch to make it delete no-longer-present files from the destination as well as copying new or changed ones.

Rsync is a better solution if you're backing up over a slowish network, because it works hard to find the minimal amount of information to transmit over the connection between source and destination. But if your connection is very fast (e.g. USB2) then Robocopy will usually outperform rsync.

I use Robocopy, in a batch file run nightly as a scheduled task, to copy everything on a school's Windows 2003 Server box to an external USB2 drive; because it only copies those files that have changed, a day's backup usually takes under a minute.

The external drive is formatted NTFS and has compression turned on. It's also set up with Volume Shadow Copies and shared on the network, which means that I not only have a nightly backup with everything where it is on the server, I get two months' worth of rolling backups accessible too - all this with only about 20% more space than a simple backup would take.

I also do a full Windows Backup weekly to a second external drive, which I swap over when I attend the school (I only work there on Wednesdays). The Robocopy target gives me a rolling archive, and the other drive gives me building-burns-down protection.
posted by flabdablet at 4:30 AM on August 6, 2007

Check out the SyncBack freeware version
posted by jeblis at 4:45 AM on August 6, 2007

I've had good luck w/ Karen's Replicator. It's free, and easy to get the hang of.
posted by landis at 6:42 AM on August 6, 2007

I have been using Vice Versa (not free) for a few years and I think it is superb. But it sounds like there are many options available and they all probably provide what you need. I would grab some trial versions (its what I did) and see which program you like best.
posted by jockc at 11:19 AM on August 6, 2007

I also use Syncback for exactly your purpose as well as backing up other stuff like photo's. It's free and powerful.
posted by merocet at 1:56 PM on August 6, 2007

You need cobian backup. It is a personal backup solution that has a lot of diffrent modes incuding mirroring but also the option to just backup changes.
posted by ilike at 1:05 AM on August 7, 2007

« Older Affordable movers: Minnesota to Wisconsin?   |   Looking for electronic music that features guitars... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.