Backup Utilities (O the joy!)

Filed under Misc, Office

I’m a bit of a toolhound, both of the physical variety (like screwdrivers, bitstops, routers and mitre saws) and of the more ethereal (clipboard loggers and macro recorders). Tools make the fun things even more fun, and the wretched things not quite so onerous.

And one really onerous thing for me is backups. They’re a pain, and it seems it’s always impossible to find what you need when you need it. I’ve got a pile of QIC-60 and QIC-80 tapes that there’s no way I could restore even if I wanted to (note to self, burn them in the next trash fire…)

Anyway, I went on a search some time ago for a decent backup utility. Something free, or close, that was flexible enough for what I needed, simple enough that I’d actually use it, capable enough to make it worthwhile and fast enough to not get in the way.

I believe my search ended with FileBackPC.

It’s a nifty little app that does a nice job of the “copy to a floppy” type of backup. Well, ok, maybe not a floppy these days, but plug in a 500gb USB2.0 removeable harddrive and this app is fantastic.

The good points:

  • It backs up specified directories, with wildcards and all sorts of file filters
  • It can compress and retain a specified number of “previous versions”
  • You can specify sets of folders in “jobs” that can be run independently
  • You can set jobs to automatically run, either on a schedule or on “an event” (like plugging in that USB harddrive!)
  • It can reconnect to other machines on your network and back up files from the (great for small home offices with a server and several workstations or laptops).
  • It can even run batch files and scripts to automatically execute processes before backing up the results of those processes. For instance, I have an item that uses the windows “backup” utility to create a single backup file of the critical system components and my Exchange server data, then I backup that file automatically using FileBackPC.

Off hand, I can’t even think of any bad points, other than it’s not an open source project.

I think my favorite feature is the backup on an event. I set several jobs up to execute when the X: drive comes online (that’s my backup USB drive). So literally all I do now is plug in the USB drive, wait till it finishes the backup, and then unplug it and file it safely away. Slick. And it’s got a nice reporting facility too, that makes it easy to see if there were any problems (open files, read errors, whatever).

And, since it’s a copy style backup, it’s blindingly easy to find that backup file when you need it. Get a couple of USB drives and be doubly safe.

Backup utilities definitely aren’t my favorite things, but they’re something almost everyone with a PC needs. I know this has probably sounded more like an ad than anything else, but it’s not. I’m not getting paid by the FileBack people. This is one of those utilities that I’ve found so handy, useful and easy to work with, that I just felt like mentioning it.

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