Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Backup! We need Backup!

I just got off the phone with a friend whose hard drive made the infamous clicking noise and now all his life's photos are gone.
How to avoid this problem for free, after the Jump.

Guys, go to BEST BUY, buy.com, Newegg, anywhere, spend a hundred dollars on an external drive, back up you photos at least 1x a month, and leave it at your mother's house.(protects you from fire too, this way). Or even just copy to another hard drive in your PC, or an external.
Nowadays for $100 you can get at least a 1 TB drive, plenty of room.
If you think this is a long, scary process, it's not. I actually wrote a simple program to do the backup for you. No you don’t have to download this. You can write it yourself in Microsoft Notepad. This is the leanest (least worrisome) way I know to do this.
(I can only guarantee this will be easy in windows XP. Vista asks you too many questions , and I haven’t played with windows 7 yet. I have no idea how Macs handle batch commands)
Open notepad
Copy paste this:
XCOPY "G:\My Pictures" "m:\My Pictures" /s/e/d/y
Replace "G:\My Pictures" with the location of your picture folder, and "m:\My Pictures" with the location on the external drive where your backup will go. Leave the quotes where they are (")
click save as, and name the file whatever you want.BAT (make sure you type the .bat extension) you have to change the dropdown from "txt files" to "all files" (right under the naming bar)
now when you double click the icon for the file you just saved, (i will use mine as an example) it will UPDATE the m:\My Pictures folder (to include anything newer than the previous time you ran this) from the G:\My Pictures folder. Meaning any new files and folders will be copied there, any files that have been changed will be overwritten. Since this only updates, files that you deleted will not be removed, but who cares space is cheap! The first time you do it, if there is no "m:\My Pictures" folder, the dos command will ask you if it’s a file or directory. Chose directory by pressing D. this will only happened the first time.
In case your wondering, here’s a translation of the program we have just written:
XCOPY = means copy the contents of a folder from one place to another. Since it’s a copy, your original is still there
"G:\My Pictures" = location of all my pictures on my computer. Replace this with the appropriate folder on your computer.
"m:\My Pictures"" = location of where I want my pictures to be copied on the external drive (M). Replace this with the appropriate folder for your drive.
/s/e = all subfolders and any file type (in case some are read only or hidden)
/d/y = the part of the command that lets it know to update only.
If you have multiple folders to backup, you can simply make more lines on the same .bat file. Here’s how mine looks:
XCOPY "G:\My Pictures" "m:\My Pictures" /s/e/d/y
XCOPY "F:\movies" "m:\Movies" /s/e/d/y
XCOPY "J:\My Documents" "M:\My Documents" /s/e/d/y
Consider this: Every hard drive will one day fail. Because of the moving parts, YOUR HARD DRIVE WILL DIE. There’s no way around it (unless you have a solid state drive, which is pretty expensive). Either you will
  1. Lose all your data
  2. Be able to recover some of your data at a high co$t
  3. Have a backup somewhere.
If you want to take this a little farther, you can do what I do. I have more than one hard drive in my computer, and every time my computer starts up I run a batch which backs up my jobs folder to the other drive. Since it only copies files that are newer than the backed up versions, it takes about 15 seconds to check my files, usually. (We’re talking over 50gb of files here!) When it does copy files to the backup, it goes pretty fast! To set this up, all I did was write a batch file as above, and then dropped it into the Start menu>Programs folder called “Startup”. Things in this folder run whenever you turn on your computer.
Good luck!

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