Backup Data to External Drives

Everyone should have a backup of their important data in case your main hard drive fails and everything’s lost forever.  Oh, and it’s not if, it’s when your main hard drive fails.  If the worst does happen you may be lucky and be able to retrieve some files from your drive but it’s hit and miss, and can be very expensive.

This lifehacker post discusses average life times for hard drives, and the average times are between a few months and five years.  I backup all important data to 2 external USB drives.  I’ll describe the process I use for each backup drive below.

First of all I put a file in the root directory of all the drives (main and backup) so that the backup procedure can test for the existence of drives before running.  The file format I use is Backup-E.TXT where E is the drive letter.

Secondly I create a batch file which does the copying process for each backup drive.
Backup Text File

(text of batch file here)

Lines 7-8 check for the existence of the main and backup drives, and if not found will jump to Line 23 and no backup will occur.
Line 23 is the command that actually backs up the data using the excellent Robocopy which can be installed from Microsoft Technet.  It only copies updated files so the whole process is much quicker than copying the full data again.

If the backup runs successfully it will show the Start and Finish times so that you can see how long the backup took.  I normally start it and leave it for an hour or two.

And there we have it, all data backed up.  Don’t forget to take the drives to an offsite location.  I keep mine at my work office but it could be a family members or friends house.

Photo by Patrick Lindenberg

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