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Windows 7: What is the best way to do file backups for free?

02 Apr 2011   #1

Windows 8 Pro x64; Win 7 Home Premium x64 SP1 on VirtualBox
What is the best way to do file backups for free?

There are so many ways to do file backups.....partitions, external hard drives etc. etc. I've found the default Windows 7 backup tool to be pretty buggy sometimes, so I don't use it. I'm not interested in making image backups, because it just takes up too much space and a re-install is simple enough to do. That being said....I'm only interested in file backups.

What I currently do is create a second data partition on every computer I own (except for the old ones with really small hard drives). I just configure my libraries to be separate from the OS partition, very handy for re-installs. Just to be sure I copy all of my files to another computer on the network with a larger hard drive, its rather unorganized and messy lol, but it works.

I was wondering if there is another more efficient, free way for me to keep all of my files backed up and safe from dangers?

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it :)!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Apr 2011   #2

Windows Home Premium 64bit

Hi McDougal and welcome back to the Forum. Many people here at the Forum use a free File/Folder backup program called Cobian. If you search on the Forum site with "Cobian"
you will find lots of threads discussing this free product. I use it myself and find it very easy and reliable. You can do Full or Incremental backups. I still also use imaging backup using Macrium Reflect. You can download the free Cobian for the
link below. And YES you can backup to networked locations.

Cobian Backup

Hope this helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Apr 2011   #3

Windows 8 Pro x64; Win 7 Home Premium x64 SP1 on VirtualBox

Great, that program is exactly what I was looking for :)!

Now I just need to figure out how to configure it right....

Thanks for the help :)!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Apr 2011   #4

Windows Home Premium 64bit

No problem. It is always a pleasure to help out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #5

Win7 H.Prem. 32bit+SP1

Hi McDougal, I don't believe in using any app to backup my files. I use two simple tools, 7Zip and my mouse. I make a new folder in both of my external hdd's named whatever takes your fancy. I then zip i.e. compress them and store in ext hdd's. I prefer doing them singly as its easier to un zip them. I never have anything on C: drive, any file I need instant access to is on my single hdd's partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #6

win7 ultimate / virtual box

personally i love bart backup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #7
Microsoft MVP


This is how to link User folders to another partition or (preferably) HD: User Folders - Change Default Location - Windows 7 Forums

This keeps the system image lean so that if Win7 becomes irreparable you can reimage it to the OS/Programs partition in 20 minutes and your data is safe and waiting in its own partition.
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup - Windows 7 Forums
System Image Recovery - Windows 7 Forums

However you still need to backup data, so you can use the automated method or to keep it leaner and more simple just periodically drag all active User folders to external or secondary HD. Backup User and System Files - Windows 7 Forums

Edit: The leanest automatic backup which only uses the actual disk space taken by the files stored and then updates only the latest file changes on your backup is SyncToys linked below by PhoneMan. I had forgotten about this option but will add it to my toy chest.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #8
Phone Man

Windows 8.1 Pro w/Media Center 64bit, Windows 7 HP 64bit

I use Download details: SyncToy 2.1 from Microsoft.

I use the Echo mode so whatever changes I make on my main drive is updated on my backup drive.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I use robocopy which is built right into Windows to do my file level backups to an external USB drive. In fact, a pair of them which I keep offsite in the case my house burns down.

Robocopy is great because
1). it comes for free with Windows 7
2). it only copies files that are newer or have changed since you last run the backup
3). The files are simply loose files on the destination drive. It's not a backup file or anything else which requires software to read.

Here is some sample syntax, use this as a reference if you want to try this out.
robocopy C:\users\pparks1\music H:\Backups\PPARKS1\Music /mir /dst

robocopy C:\users\pparks1\Downloads H:\Backups\PPARKS1\Downloads /mir /dst

robocopy C:\users\pparks1\pictures H:\Backups\PPARKS1\pictures /mir /dst

robocopy "C:\users\pparks1\Documents" "H:\Backups\PPARKS1\Documents" /mir /dst /XD "C:\users\pparks1\Documents\My Music" "C:\users\pparks1\Documents\My Pictures" "C:\users\pparks1\Documents\My Videos"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2011   #10

Win7 H.Prem. 32bit+SP1

Hi pparks1
robocopy can give trouble if W7 SP1 is installed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 What is the best way to do file backups for free?

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