Personal PC Backup–Strategies including redundancy

- January 17, 2016

Rest of the Story:

I use the following ‘backup’ tools and products for my personal use.  Yes, I do use 3 approaches as each has different benefits and advantages.

This is a Microsoft product that is already on your system for copying files between 2 locations.  Why use RoboCopy?  If you're conscientious about the safety of your data, chances are good that you are already using Windows 7's Backup and Restore tool to create an image file of your hard disk as well as to back up your data files on a regular schedule. However, you may like to have an additional copy of your data files just to be on the safe side. While you can easily do so by copying your files and folders to an external hard drive via drag and drop, that can be a tedious operation.
I use this product to backup my local files to an external harddrive.  I have created a batch file which when clicked will execute robocopy commands copying files between my pc and an external hard drive.  The hard drive came from an older pc that i have put in a cheap ($15) enclosure.  I can connect this device to my pc via usb cable.  The batch file resides on the external harddrive called robo_home.bat with the following contents… Below i am showing just 1 line of the file.  It provides the source and destination locations for what is to be copied to the external hard drive.  In fact I have multiple locations that i copy to the hard drive.  The external hard drive is 250gb plenty large enough to backup personal pictures/videos etc. robocopy D:\_Personal_A_L F:\Home_PC\_Personal_A_L   /mir /z /xa:sh /xjd /R:5 /W:15 /MT:32 /v /np /log:home_backup1.log
What does this do?  It copies files from the source D:\_Personal to the destination F:\Home_PC\_Personal_A_F with a series of command arguments.  RoboCopy has numerous arguments that can be used to instruct how things will be copied.  The following are what i use. /mir = I want to back up every folder in the source, even any empty folders, as they may be placeholders for future data. I also don't want to have files on the backup that I deleted from my hard disk /XA: SH = switch to exclude the hidden, system files /XD AppData = to exclude the entire AppData folder /XJD = exclude all the junction points
Dropbox is an online backup facility which stores your data on server using Cloud Storage so that you can share the files with other using file synchronization. The concept of Dropbox is that you can simply access your files anywhere and can be shared with others. The best part of Dropbox is its synchronization, Any files you save to Dropbox will also instantly reflect the same in your computers, Phones, iPad and Dropbox Websites. I use a personal account, and the size limit is quite low 8 gb.  You can purchase a license to get more space and often they have promotions to get more space.  I use this product to make some files availalbe cross multiple devices and pcs.  Often I share Application settings files so that a product on one device will run with similar settings on another computer.  In addition, I use the folder share features to share files with friends and family. I have installed this product on my phone which is really nice to access pictures taken on mobile devices.  After installing on a mobile device you will be walked through options to copy pictures automatically to your dropbox account.  So immediately after taking a picture the file(s) are available on my home pc.  Really nice.  For my family (wife and kids) i stress they use this product, for their school assignments/home work etc.  If their laptops crash – they are safe.  Often they have used this product to access assignments from libraries or school systems, making their work available to them at all times. Very nice.
CrashPlan is a utility that allows you to back up your computer to another computer or to an external drive, either manually or on a schedule. If you have multiple computers in your household, you can back them up to one another, or you can back up to a friend's computer and invite them to do the same.  You can configure this app to create automatic backups once a day. And if you're a paid user, you'll benefit from continuous backups, so if something does go wrong, you can quickly pick up right where you left off. This is my fail safe backup system that is scheduled to run every evening.  Crashplan backups up unlimited amount of data/files to the cloud nightly.  The cost was ~$100 for 5 years which I find very reasonable to know that my home pc is backed in case of fire/theft etc.  This is quite affordable in my opinion for the comfort of knowing things are backed up.  You can use this product like DropBox however I find DropBox is cross platform and free/low cost.
  There you have it.  3 approaches, each providing different benefits.