Free Network Backup
Have you ever lost sleep at night worrying about the funny scraping noise your hard drive was starting to make and trying to remember if you backed up any of your photos or files in the last year?
OverviewMicrosoft has a nifty free app called SyncToy that allows you to do many different types of file synchronization between folders. By using the Network Magic Shared Folders feature, you can also set it up to do syncrhonization across your network from one computer (Backup "Source") to another computer (Backup "Target"). I'll also show you how to use the task scheduler on Windows XP to make it automatically happen every night at 3am.
Here are the prerequisites for the steps in this post:
- Install Network Magic on at least 2 PCs (The backup "Source" and the backup "Target")
- Download and install SyncToy on the Backup Source PC
- Create a Network Magic Shared Folder on the Backup Target PC where you want
your backups to go
Okay, if you're sitting comfortably, let's begin:
1. Open SyncToy and click on the "Create New Folder Pair" button.
2. On page 1 of the wizard, set the Left Folder to be the Backup Source location you want to backup. In my case, I like to keep a backup of things under "My Documents". Then hit Next.
3. On page 2, click on the Browse button for the right folder pair.
4. This will bring up the Browse for Folder dialog. You can use the "Network Magic Folders" node to easily navigate to the shared folder on your network where you want the backups to be stored - the Backup Target. Once you are done, click OK and then Next on the Wizard page.
5. On the 3rd page of the Wizard you will be asked what type of sync operation you want to perform. For doing backups, I prefer to use the "Echo" option. This will perform a one-way sync always from the source machine to the target machine. It's useful incase I ever want to modify the target machine files - (e.g. archive them into a .zip file) and I don't want the changes to affect my desktop PC. Click Next when you're done.
6. On the final page of the Wizard enter a name for your backup. Pick something easy to remember as we'll us this again later when setup an automatic schedule.
7. OK... We're half way there. Now you can go into Sync Toy at any time and perform a backup. But, let's automate it, so that our backups happen at 3am every day. First step is to open the Scheduled Tasks application from the Control Panel, and choose "Add Scheduled Task"
8. On Page 1 of the Scheduled Task Wizard, choose SyncToy for the program to schedule. Then click Next.
9. On the Next Page, choose the Daily Option and click Next. On the next 2 screens (Not shown here), enter the time you want to start and also your Windows username and password. Task Scheduler will use this logon information to get access to your documents if nobody is logged into the machine. Make sure the Windows username you select has permissions to access to the folder you want to sync.
10. On the Last Page, check the "Open Advanced Properties" option and click Finish.
11. Now for the final step, when the Advanced properties come up you need to add the following to the end of the command:
-R "[Your SyncToy Task Name]"
where [Your SyncToy Task Name] is the name you chose in step 6. If the name has spaces in it, it needs to be enclosed in quotes.
That should do it, fresh automatic backups every day. I hope you sleep well tonight.