How To Automate & Schedule Regular Windows 7 Backups

hardbackup   How To Automate & Schedule Regular Windows 7 BackupsFar too many PC users fail to properly back up their systems and their data. Because of that, I’ve often found myself in the position of having to tell family and friends that all of the family photos and financial information they’ve stored on their computer is completely lost. There are so many free and inexpensive ways to set up regular backups, that there is really no excuse to lose all of those precious memories and important files.

Tina recently described a step-by-step approach to setting up the Windows 7 backup and restore feature that’s built right into the operating system. It really doesn’t get much easier than that. Justin also provided 10 free products that can help with manually taking regular backups. In this article, I’m going to offer three other free products that you can use to configure regularly scheduled, automated Windows 7 backups.

Back Up All of Your Computers Today

These are products that are guaranteed to work with the Windows 7 operating system, but you can also use them to back up other PCs in your house as well. The best of all, the client-server solution, which I’ll describe last, offers a very cool centralized approach to your entire household backup needs.

Fast & Simple Backups With TrueSafe

The simple fact is, some people just don’t know where to start when it comes to computer maintenance. In my opinion, TrueSafe offers one of the simplest solutions for taking PC image backups.

It is free software, but you will need to register with the site using an email address. The process is simple and painless. Once you’re done, the software will take you through a very simple four step backup process.

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Best of all, part of the process includes an option to schedule the backups only at a regularly scheduled time of your choosing. In the “Choose Schedule” step, you get to define when the backups take place, and how often they take place. Make sure to choose the “Automatic” mode in this step, or you won’t be able to schedule your backups.

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Once you’re through the four steps, your PC is now protected with regular backups of either your entire drive, or select files and folders that you’ve chosen, to the destination of your choice. This can be a network share that you’ve set up on a different PC, or some external or internal drive.

Image Your Hard Disk With ODIN

The second tool that I wanted to offer is a very easy to use open-source disk imaging software tool called ODIN, that lets you quickly configure what partitions you want to image, and where you want to store those images.

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The manual operation of this tool is a quick one-screen operation, which is very cool. It offers one of the easiest ways to take a quick backup of your hard drive to an external hard drive where you probably (should be) storing all of your hard disk backups.

However, the reason I’m covering the tool here is because it also offers a command line feature that you can schedule using Windows 7 task scheduling tool to fire off at automated, scheduled intervals.

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You can get all the usage options by typing “usage” after the executable. Using the -backup parameter lets you define the -source and -target for the images. You could install the software on any PC where you want to take backup images and just schedule the backup command to kick off whenever it’s convenient for you – like when no one is likely to be using the computer.

Use UrBackup to Set Up a Client-Server Imaging Solution

In this article, I’ve saved the best for last. I absolutely love the UrBackup imaging solution. I like it because it follows the general goal I have to accomplish most of my home network maintenance and processing tasks using a centralized server to do all of the work.

Basically, you install a UrBackup Server app onto your centralized server where you would like to store all of your backups. Then, you install the UrBackup Client software on all of the PCs in your house that you want to back up.

The nice thing about this solution is that it bypasses messy antivirus or firewall problems networking sharing often introduces, because once you enable the client software, the server software has full access to take backups.

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As you can see above, for each client, you tell the server software where to store the backups and at what frequency you want to take images.

On the client machine, you can either trigger manual backups by right clicking the UrBackups icon in the taskbar, or you can open up the client software to define the schedule for that client’s automated backups.

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You can schedule only a backup of files and specific folders, or if you prefer you can define an interval for incremental image backups. Make sure the “active” box is selected, or the Server schedule settings will be used instead.

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On the server, you can select between all of your clients by using the drop-down list at the top of the main screen.

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In my opinion, UrBackup offers the nicest solution because you can set up, schedule, and organize all of your backup configurations and storage from one central location. Attack a massive drive to that server and you’ve got an awesome at-home backup solution for all of your home computers.

Do any of these Windows 7 backup solutions strike your interest? Do you know of any others that work well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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12 Comments -

Cjester66

So riddle me this. Why is it that, if I delete a file and don’t overwrite it a gazillion times or do multiple scrubs, the file is never really gone and any one with a little knowledge can get it back. I deleted it, I want it gone, yet there it is for anyone to find. Have your hard drive make a hiccup though, and everything is lost forever. Why is that?

Michael Lockhart

It’s Murphy. Plus consider this:  all your precious data are actually stored as tiny little magnetic fields in unstable ferric oxide (rust)… it’s only a matter of time before some areas of the platter start to go below design tollerance. This is why most drives have a Mean-Time-Before-Failure of only 5-8 years.

Actually if your hard drive is only partly corrupted – even in a crucial system area (and not a total hardware fault), you may still be able to recover files from it.  There are expensive services that can do it for you, or you could take a look at a tool you can buy called SpinRite (www.grc.com/spinrite.htm) that will actually go to extraordinary lengths to read and recover what it can from your drive — in some cases it can even make what your operating system would call “unusable” stable enough for you to boot and then backup those files you forgot until after it was too late…

But as usual, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make backups — even if that’s just burning DVDs of photos.

Joe

When you delete a file, all that gets deleted in an entry in the registry that tells the computer where to find it.  It’s like removing reference to it from the table of contents or index in a book without erasing the text on the page.  The operating system (Windows) can’t find it in the registry, so as far as the OS is concerned it is gone.  Recovery software can often find it, not being dependent on the registry.  When your computer “hiccups” it is like when you hiccup while reading a page and you spill a bottle of ink on the page or set it on fire with a ciggarette, or poke your eyes out so you can’t read it anymore.

Well, it is sorta like that.

Ryan Dube

That’s actually a good analogy…lol

Bruce Epper

Hardware failure is a much more severe problem.  If the bearings go out, the platters don’t spin and your data is inaccessible.  If the controller fries, nothing works at all.  If the actuator arm no longer moves the read-write heads from cylinder to cylinder, your data is inaccessible again.  If even one read-write head fails, your data would be returned corrupted if it can find it at all.  With any of these problems, you could bring it to a data recovery specialist who will open it up in order to get your data off of the platters, but you wil pay dearly for the service.  All of these scenarios go far beyond a simple file deletion and if you use computers long enough, you are likely to experience something along these lines at least once.

Cjester66

Thanks. Nice simple answer to a complex question. I hate to sound dumb, but stuff like that drives me crazy.

Ryan Dube

I agree…fantastic answer. Also, it wasn’t a dumb question at all – it’s a good distinction to know. And even in the case where your hard drive makes a hiccup, as Bruce points out, the data is still there. It isn’t always difficult or expensive to get it back, but it can be depending on the extent of the damage. So, technically everything isn’t lost forever, until you’ve overwritten the data (or completely destroyed the hard drive itself).

Flat Broke

Can anyone recommend a free backup server, like a Box.net or Mozy, with unlimited or at least very generous hard drive space? There are plenty of free “clients” but I need a free server. :(

Is it possible to schedule regular backups to say, ADrive or MediaFire using something like this? Or would I have to pay for another computer and install server software?

I can’t afford anything that costs more than $0. :( From what I’ve heard MegaUpload offers a one-time fee for an “unlimited” premium account, but obviously that costs more than what I’ve got. :(

Aibek

Best would be to ask this as a question on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/
I am sure you will get lots of solid recommendation. Just make sure to state exactly what you need.

Ryan Dube

In the case of ODIN and Truesafe, you need a path – I think you can set something up like this with some of the online storage services, but doubt you can get enough free storage to do backups. I’m not familiar ADrive or MediaFire, but so long as you can create a virtual mapped drive and have enough space, it’ll probably work. Aibek is right though, you may benefit from getting feedback from other MUO readers at MUO Answers. Someone might have already accomplished what you’re trying to do.

Data Backup Software

Few months ago, I have also lost my data. But now I have used data backup software to protect data from corruption. It is one of the inexpensive ways to set regular backup. 

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