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I have a mountain of things listed on my Remember The Milk “to-do” list – among them include achieving world peace, eradicating hunger and poverty, finding a cure for cancer and backing up my PC files. Last week I finally got around to backing up my PC files (the rest will have to wait a while longer unfortunately).

I downloaded a program that I have been looking at for a while called SyncBack and I was prompted to finally get it done when I saw SyncBack being profiled on Lifehacker. It helps now that I have two separate hard-drives and so I have dedicated the smaller one as my backup drive. If you want to back up your files and you don’t have a separate drive, you will have to either buy another hard-drive or an easier option may be to buy a removable USB drive and have it plugged into a USB port for when the backup process is scheduled. SyncBack recommends having a drive “3 or 4 times larger than the amount of data you want to backup”. I personally think that is a little on the excessive side but I suppose it all depends on individual preferences.

There is a free version of SyncBack and a paid version. I always nearly go with the free version (my Scottish blood rising to the surface there!) and it is more than adequate for my means.

After installing it, you will be asked to make a new profile. When you start one, you will get the following prompt box :


I chose “backup” and it asked me to name the profile. After giving it a name, the main configuration window came up :


Then it is basically a case of going through each tab and configuring it the way you want it. Be very careful that everything is exactly as you want it. You need to specify the drive you want to backup FROM (the source) and the drive that you want to send the backup TO (the destination).

The settings are actually very flexible. You can tell it :

  • to ignore certain directories or file formats. For example, software installations and settings (which can be easily replaced if necessary).
  • to email you any error reports (but you will need a SMTP server for this)
  • to send copies of your backups to an external FTP server (such as your private website) as a password-protected zip attachment. But the big drawback to this feature is that the zipped attachment has a maximum file size of 4GB – which is bad news for my 100GB drive.
  • to backup at a certain time each day. So everything ends up automated and in the background.

Just make sure that SyncBack is included in your startup options each day as mine didn’t automatically do this. So it was shut down for 2 days and I was wondering why no backups were occurring. You should also check your backup folder once or twice a week to make sure that the backup program is working as planned.

By the way, if you want to keep online copy of your backup files then check out Mozy. It’s a pretty good service as well, however if you go with a free account you only get 2 GB of storage space.

What is your backup plan? Do you use SyncBack or is there a more efficient kid on the block? Let us know.

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  1. Colin
    January 18, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I like to know what is and isn't being backed up, so I go with Carbonite. It uses a series of dots on files and folders that show you what is backed up, what's awaiting backup and no dots means "won't be backed up". Easy peasy.

    I also favour off-site backup, because in time of fire, ALL your hard drives will be toast together!

  2. Aibek
    January 17, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for sharing, pretty good tutorial.

  3. Manu
    January 17, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Rather than backing up partitions, can I use this tool to back up installed applications? Can be quite a pain reinstalling apps every time Windows goes for a toss.

    I think Acronis does this but wonder if any freeware is avail able.

  4. Arvin Bautista
    January 16, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I just covered my own backup system on my new blog, Greasy PC (basically autohotkey-scripted backup using a combination of Mozy and Windows Backup): and

    p.s. - I've linked to this blog on my sidebar list as a thank you to your service!