you have ever experienced a "computer crash" whether its in the form of
a hard drive going bad, physical damage to the computer, virus attack,
or other issue you know the value of backing up your data.
Unfortunately for most of us, remembering to backup your important data
as well as the time to do this can cause many of us to forget to backup
and therefore suffer the consequences when the inevitable crash happens.
Thankfully, with the invention of external hard drives, shared network
drives, flash/usb drives and other various devices the times of
struggling with tape backups and other older methods are behind us.
This tutorial will show you how to use a free
utility from Microsoft called Microsoft SyncToy to backup your data to
your favorite device and put your mind at ease the next time your data
is lost. This tutorial does not cover how to create an exact disk image
of your hard drive. We are simply covering how to backup the important
data on your hard drive including your favorites, email, items in My
Documents and such.
Using Microsoft SyncToy to Automate Backups
Downloading and Installing
SyncToy is one of the many PowerToys offered by Microsoft for Windows
XP. You can find a list of these utilities by visiting the site below.
Click on the link on the right side for Microsoft SyncToy and you'll be
sent to its download page. Click on the Download button and save the
Setup.msi file to your desktop.
Once downloaded, find the installation file called Setup.msi on your
desktop and double-click on it to install. Once installed SyncToy will
be listed under All Programs.
Using SyncToy with
Your Backup Device
Make sure you have connected your backup device to your PC and it shows
up in My Computer correctly. Also, make a note of the drive letter or
network path to your device. We will use this drive letter in SyncToy
to tell it where to backup your data.
Open SyncToy and
Configure Items to Backup
Find SyncToy under All Programs and click on it to open, you should see
a screen similar to the one below.
Click on "Create New Folder Pair" to start adding items to backup. The
Left Folder is where the data is currently located (usually on your
hard drive, drive c or other known drive letter), while the Right
Folder is the drive letter (and directory) of your external hard drive,
usb drive, or other backup device.
on the Browse option and find the folder you want to backup on your
hard drive. In this example, we are trying to backup the Favorites
folder under the logged in user. As a note, in Windows XP, the
Favorites folder for a particular user will generally be C:\Documents and Settings\User
Name\Favorites, where "User Name" is replaced with the
actual name of the logged in user.
we have chosen what to backup, in this case the Favorites folder, we
have to tell it where to backup.
clicking Browse for the Right Folder, choose the Drive Letter for your
backup drive. In the example, we are backing up the data to Drive J.
You'll want to organize the data being backed up. A good
to do this is to create separate folders for each type of data we are
saving. First, we'll create a folder called Backup. We do this by
clicking on the "Make New Folder" button, then right-clicking on this
new folder and choosing Rename. Type "Backup" (without the quotes) as
the name for the new folder.
this example, we'll make another folder under Backups for the Favorites
List. Remember to Right-click on the Folder and rename it to Favorites
(or whatever data you are backing up).
Clicking OK, your screen should look similar to the one below. Click
Next to continue.
you need to choose how you want to backup the information. You can
perform the following tasks between two folders:
recommend using Echo for most tasks, so that your data is backed up to
your device and changes on your hard drive are "echoed" on your backup.
New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes in one
folder is repeated on the other.
and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the
left are repeated on the right.
Updated files on the right are copied to the left is the file name
already exists on the left.
New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are
repeated on the right. Similar to Echo, except there are no deletions.
New and updated files are copied both ways. Renamed and deleted files
choosing how to backup, you'll need to name the folder pair. In this
case, we'll call it Favorites.
clicking on Finish, your screen should resemble the one below. You can
continue to create Folder Pairs in this same manner for each type of
data you want backed up.
would recommend backing up the following data for starters in Windows
XP. The usual location of these items on your hard drive is shown in
- Windows Address Book (C:\Documents and
Settings\User Name\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book)
- Favorites (C:\Documents and
- My Documents Folder (C:\Documents and
Settings\User Name\My Documents)
- Email - Outlook Express, MS Outlook, or
other mail program
- To Find the location of your Outlook
email, open Outlook Express, click on Tools, Options, and Maintenance
(See the image below for a screenshot of this page). Then click on the
Store Folder button to show you the path where your emails are located.
The normal location is C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Local
Settings\Application Data\Identities\Identity Number\Microsoft\Outlook
- To Find the location of your MS
click on Start, Search, All Files and Folders, and search for the
wildcard *.pst Backup the location where this .pst
located, usually this is located at C:\Documents and Settings\User
Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
have designated all your folder pairs to back, you can choose Run All
to perform the backup.
backing up the data, you will be shown a summary screen displaying how
many files were backed up successfully and if any failed to be backed
that's it we have backed up your important data, however we are missing
one important step. Scheduling the backup so we wont forget to do it.
Task Scheduler and Schedule SyncToy to Run Daily
Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled
Tasks to open up Task Scheduler
Click on Add Scheduled Task, Click on Next
Scroll down and click on the SyncToy option, click on Next
Under "Perform this Task" choose Daily and click Next
Now choose a start time, I would recommend either a time when
first turn on your computer or late in the evening when you are done
for the day. Choose Daily again for when to perform this task and
choose the current date then click Next.
Here's the tricky part, in order for the task to be scheduled, you'll
need to tell the scheduler which user to perform the task for and the
username for that profile. Enter the username and password for this
profile in this section and click Next.
On the next screen check the box for "Open advanced properties for this
task when I click Finish" and then click Finish
When the Advanced Properties box opens, look under the Task tab for the
Run line. It should look similar to the one below.
the Run command look like the following to allow SyncToy to run all the
Click Ok and close the Scheduled Tasks window.
You have now setup your computer to backup important information like
your email, favorites, address book and My Documents directory to your
removable or external backup device on a daily basis using Microsoft
Other Backup Options
though Microsoft SyncToy is free, you may want to use another automated
program to backup your important data. Listed below you will find links
to some of the other backup tools I have used.
Allway Sync Pro
Written by Mark Hasting
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