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backup files to google driveSo you have your Box, Google Drive or SkyDrive account, but how do you automatically add files to them? They are quite useful for manually adding files to, but what if you wanted to use the storage space to back up your computer files? Well, there aren’t too many options, especially free ones, that allow you to do this.

In fact, I’m only aware of one and that is Duplicati. Duplicati is a cross platform (Linux, Mac, Windows) program that becomes the intermediate tool between your computer files and these backup services. Granted, these aren’t the only services that it can be used on, but they’re some of the most popular ones so I mentioned them first. Duplicati is easy to use and set up. Let’s jump in!

Setting Up Duplicati

Upon installing Duplicati, you’ll be welcomed with a Setup Wizard to get your first backup underway. You’ll want to check the option “Setup a new backup” and click “Next.” Other options on this screen are restoring files from backup without setting up Duplicati and restoring settings from a previous Duplicati installation.

backup files to google drive

Next you’ll want to create a name for your backup. Note that you can also add this to a group to organize your backups if you desire.


Now you will select the types of files you want to backup or, alternatively, you can create a custom folder list. For most, however, selecting the file types should suffice.


After selecting your files, Duplicati will prompt you to set up your password. This password is very important to remember as they will not recover it for you. Do I need to reiterate that? Apparently, they feel the need to.

You can either choose your own password or have Duplicati randomly create one for you. Either way, make sure you save your password in a safe place. You can also choose the encryption method. Unless you’re an advanced user, I recommend you leave that be.

Once you create a secure password How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget Read More , you’ll choose your cloud storage option. If you haven’t already created an account with one or more of these options (and actually even if you have), I highly recommend you read Tim Brookes article, Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Backing up your files is a no-brainer - at least it should be. Hardware failure, security breaches, natural disasters, thieving scumbags and clumsiness can all lead to heart-in-mouth moments when you realise that your precious... Read More .

At this point it’d be a good idea to check out the how to section on the Duplicati website where they have instructions for setting up each of the different cloud storage options. Had I done this first, I would have saved some time and prevented some frustrating error messages.

Basically what I did when setting it up for SkyDrive is I assumed that it wanted the full folder path (in my defense, it kind of reads like it wants that) so I was pasting the whole SkyDrive folder path or a path of a folder in SkyDrive that I wanted to backup to.

Needless to say, this didn’t work. Instead what you’re supposed to do is type in the name that you want such as “Backup,” “Duplicati,” “My Documents,” etc. Then you click the Create Folder button. Once it’s created click the Test Connection button to ensure it works properly. You should get a little message that says “Connection Successful.”

duplicati review

Now you have a choice: you can either click next and bypass all the “advanced” options, or check the ones you’d like to change. If you’re curious like I am, you can check them all. Then click next.

The first setting, and one of the most important is the scheduling. This one isn’t very advanced and really should be customized no matter your technical level. Simply chose the different options to customize when you want Duplicati to run.

Next, you can edit the cleanup options. One thing you don’t want is an abundant amount of backups taking up space. You only need a few at the most, so really this doesn’t need to be changed, unless you have something specific in mind.

duplicati review

This next option is limiting the backup itself as far as file size, upload and download bandwidth limits, etc. This definitely applies if you have strict regulations from your Internet Service Provider.

Editing filters can come in handy if there’s a specific file type you want to keep from backing up, or perhaps the alternative where you only want to backup specific file types.

duplicati review

Lastly, there are the override settings. This is for the truly advanced and both Duplicati and I recommend that you don’t mess with these unless you know what you’re doing.

backup files to skydrive

Then you finish and run the backup!

backup files to skydrive

Here is some helpful information from Duplicati about the first backup that will be run:

When Duplicati is creating the first backup it simply creates a full backup that consists of three different parts. The first part is all the backup files that are stored in a split archive. Furthermore, so-called signatures are stored. A signature is a short description of what a file looks like at a specific time. Besides the files and signatures a so-called manifest is stored on the remote server. The manifest file is a description of the backup and it is used to verify integrity of all backup files. To make sure that no one gets access to this data, all those files are encrypted before they are uploaded.

backup files to skydrive

They continue on to explain what will occur when Duplicati is run a second time:

When Duplicati is run another time it creates (new) signatures of all current files that might have been changed in the meantime. The new signatures are then compared with old signatures that have been stored in the backup. The comparison shows if a file has been changed, and it also shows what parts of a file have changed. These changed parts are put into a new archive and stored on the remote server together with the updated signatures and a new manifest file. This is an incremental backup which is very bandwidth efficient as only those parts are transferred that have been changed.

These quotes were derived from the how to section, which I linked to earlier. The great thing about Duplicati is there is a bunch of information available to you about the product and it is actively being developed.

Downloading Duplicati

So where do you download? Simply go to the Duplicati home page and you’ll see the latest version to download in the form of a green button. I could link to the actual download page, but that link would be obsolete once it is updated.

Using Duplicati After Initial Setup

There’s really not much you need to change, but if for some reason you do want to change any settings in Duplicati, it is fairly easy and they can be accessed simply by right clicking on the Duplicati icon in the application toolbar. Here it is shown in Windows:

backup files to google drive

From here you can access the Wizard, which you were first prompted with upon installation. You can also edit more options, view the current status, and control what the program is currently doing.


Duplicati was first brought to my attention by MakeUseOf reader, Andrea, in a comment Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Backing up your files is a no-brainer - at least it should be. Hardware failure, security breaches, natural disasters, thieving scumbags and clumsiness can all lead to heart-in-mouth moments when you realise that your precious... Read More on Tim’s post about cloud storage versus cloud backup and how they differ (linked to previously in the article). I am quite surprised at the functionality and simplicity of Duplicati. I feel it’s an essential tool to have along side any of the popular cloud storage apps The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The cloud storage scene has heated up recently, with a long-awaited entry by Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft. Dropbox has gone unchallenged by the major players for a long time, but that’s changed... Read More . Unfortunately there is one app that is missing from the Duplicati and that is Dropbox. Other programs that Duplicati backs up to are listed below:

  • 1&1 SmartDrive
  • Amazon S3
  • BACKUP.ACtion
  • CloudSafe
  • DriveOnWeb
  • Google Drive
  • SkyDrive
  • Strato HiDrive
  • TahoeLAFS
  • Telekom Mediencenter

Have you already tried Duplicati already? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Do you think using Duplicati will make your cloud storage applications more useful or have you created another system that works just as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Dan Nowak
    December 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I'm trying this program out. It links to so many cloud storages that it will be a good program to have. Thanks for the list of them after the article.

  2. Richard Steven Hack
    December 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    This image in the series is not displaying from your content delivery network:

    It's preventing me from saving this page.

    Could you please fix that?

  3. Anonymous
    December 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I like cubby more. Unlimited p2p syncing!!

  4. ReadandShare
    December 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I've been using SkyDrive as offsite backup. SkyDrive has an app that will automatically sync files -- and it's very easy to use.

    But two things Duplicati does that SkyDrive doesn't (or at least not yet):

    1. Encrypt files before uploading.
    2. Bandwidth-saving incremental backup

    Very nice! But I have a potentially big concern in the Duplicati's message shown in the article above:

    "Please note that there is no official API and accessing SkyDrive through this back end may violate the TOS and may stop to work if Microsoft decides to change the API."

    With my files encrypted... what if Duplicati goes out of business or SkyDrive changes its APL -- then what??

    @ Aaron -- any additional insights?

    • Frank
      December 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Using Duplicati with SkyDrive works great if you make one simple change; store the backup files in the SkyDrive folder on your PC rather than use Duplicati to upload them directly. This also avoids any API issues since your using Microsoft’s own software. Additionally, if you put the SkyDrive folder on a separate drive then you’ll have the original files, a local encrypted backup and an offsite backup thereby following the recommended 3-2-1 backup strategy.

      Decrypting files is straightforward as well because Duplicati is really a frontend for the open source and multiplatform AES Crypt that allows you to create encrypted/decrypted files on your PC. If you need access to a backup file first copy it from the SkyDrive folder to another folder on your PC, otherwise the decrypted files would get synced to SkyDrive, then use your password from Duplicati and you’ll have an unencrypted .zip file with your backup data.

    • Aaron Couch
      January 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      Even with your files encrypted, you should be able to access the originals, correct? However, if Duplicati does stop ever, I would assume that they'd let their users know far ahead of time so that they'd be able to make the appropriate decisions with their data.

      Does that answer your question? Thanks for reading!

  5. riya
    December 6, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This is really useful :) will it work with sugar sync?

    • Aaron Couch
      January 22, 2013 at 12:02 am

      Sorry for the late reply. I don't think this will really work with SugarSync as far as sending your local files to it. SugarSync can do that on its own, so an additional program really isn't needed for that.

  6. Matjaz Mirt
    December 6, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Again you provided excellent tool for everyday work. Thank you. Just what I've been looking for.

  7. Shahbaz Amin
    December 6, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Not having support for Dropbox is not really a problem because I would only need such a service to make use of Skydrive or Google Drive space..
    Thanks for this guide, I am definitely going to try it!!

    • ReadandShare
      December 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

      SkyDrive provides an app that allows for automatic file synching. Very easy to use -- basically 'set and forget'.

  8. Javier Vega
    December 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

    wow wow wow, i was just looking for something like this, using Box and Google Drive is great, but with no automatic sync i have to move a lot manually, great!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 6, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Can't say better. I hate having to remember which file is where and moving them around isn't exactly fun to do either.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

      Cross platform is sweet.
      I might try it. Lack of support for Dropbox is fine since I don't normally use it for backup storage, but if one is so inclined they can use IFTTT or Wappwolf to combo with this software. Simply set an automation to send Dropbox files to Box or Google Drive and let Duplicati does the rest.