Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.

Windows 7: Copying to ext. hard drive

21 May 2014   #1

windows 7 Home Premium
Copying to ext. hard drive

I do not believe in the backup and replace system - fat lot of good a backup will do if my win7 machine died and I had to buy a win8. So the way I protect my files is by copying all my important folders to an ext. drive. This takes about 30 minutes.

Now, suppose I only changed 10 files since my last copy, is there an automatic way with Windows Explorer of copying/replacing only those ten files rather than everything, other than by remembering which files they were that need replacing and doing it manually? My Documents folder contains some 5000 files; if I change one file I still copy and replace the entire folder. There must be a better way.

I hope you guys understand what I'm getting at; I'm 70 years old and not very savvy with technical terms and words.

Thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 May 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Yes, there's a better way: using a program that will copy only the changed or new files, ignoring the others because the others are unchanged and were backed up previously.

They are generally called "file by file" back up programs. They all work about the same way. Some are laid out better and more intuitive to a newcomer.

Most are free.


Syncback, Synctoy, FreeFileSync, Allway Sync, Folder Clone, GFI Backup Home Edition.

You can include or exclude certain files and folders as you wish.

The first time you run the application, it might take an hour or more because it's backing up the entire group of files. Thereafter, it might take only a minute or less because the previously backed up files are bypassed. It usually takes me 60 to 70 seconds to run my daily backup of about 100,000 files.

I don't know of any way of doing it in an automated way with Windows Explorer. If you back up your 5000 files in the document folder and later do it again without first deleting your first backup, Windows will ask you if you want to overwrite every time it tries to copy a file of the same name. You can say yes to all. It works, but it's a bit cumbersome.

Are you deleting your first backup before you make a second one at a later date?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 May 2014   #3

windows 7 Home Premium

Thanks for the reply.
No, I create a new folder (backup2) in the ext. hd and copy everything into it. When it finishes successfully, I delete the previous folder (backup1).
I shall certainly investigate your references. Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

21 May 2014   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit


I do something similar to you---I make an ordinary copy as you do with Windows Explorer. Takes several hours. I do that every 3 months or so.

But I use also use a file by file program as I described, every day. So I have 2 backups.

The automated one is designed to be an exact replica of my existing documents at that moment in time. If I deleted a file yesterday, then it will be deleted from my backup as well--the next time I run it.

But occasionally I wish I still had a copy of a file from a month or two ago. Very rarely, but it happens. That's when the old-fashioned method that you are currently using comes in handy---files from up to 3 months ago are still available in that backup.

So you might want to consider using both methods if you have the space on your external hard drive.

Just direct the backups to different folders on the external so one doesn't overwrite the other.

Another thing to consider: most of these file by file backup programs can be configured in 2 different ways:

1: if a file is deleted from the source folder (your originals), it will also be deleted from the backup. This is the configuration I use.

2: if a file is deleted from the source folder, it is NOT deleted from the backup. Newly created or changed files are copied, but deleted originals are not deleted on the backup. You might prefer this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Copying to ext. hard drive

Thread Tools

Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
Copying files from one hard drive to another
Hello, I'm wanting to copy some files from an external hard drive to an internal SSD drive which has enough space free. However, when i copy and paste to the destination drive, Windows Explorer only recognises a fraction of the total amount I've selected, about 10% approximately. I doing this...
General Discussion
Copying files to a usb hard drive
I try to copy files to a usb harddrive but windows just stays there copying forever. I tried the usb hardrive on another computer and it works fine. I am using Windows 7 ultimate x64.:(
General Discussion
"0x80070057" Error copying files from hard drive to hard drive??
"0x80070057" error. I was simply trying to copy a folder or group of files to another hard drive. Hard drive to Hard drive, no SSD or External was involved. Any solutions to this issue? It literally refuses the copying to be performed ... I'm trying to copy folders/files from a Seagate...
Hardware & Devices
Copying rar files to a usb hard drive
All, Got a strange problem. I've have .rar files on the c: drive all around 90+mb each. On c: the rar files are error free (no crc errors when testing them). When copying to a usb hard drive after copying (with no errors during the copying process) the rar files fail with a CRC error. I've...
General Discussion
Hard Drive Copying Problems
For some reason I seem to be having serious issues copying stuff from my backup hard drive to my new install of Windows 7. I seem to be able to use these files right off the hard drive perfectly fine, but when I try to copy them over to my main hard drive they copy extremely slow (~1mbps) or just...
Hardware & Devices

Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 20:33.
Twitter Facebook Google+