Backup: Your Most Important
Backup Guide is available as a
fully searchable, and printable PDF e-book.
The Backup Guide is also available
Everyone who uses a computer to save or store
files will at some time or another experience
that heart stopping moment when they realize
their files are lost.
Don't let those files
be lost forever. It's plain and simple: if
you use a computer, you need to backup your
data. It's not a question of whether you
should, but rather how you should...
Every day individuals, businesses, and organizations
lose their precious files due to a drive failure,
inadvertent deletion, or other unwanted action
or event. The result is a great deal of stress,
anxiety, and in the case of businesses, lost
The computer hard drive that stores all your
data has moving parts, and in time your hard
drive will wear out and fail. It's just a matter
of when. You need to keep a copy of all your
important data somewhere else.
Apart from hard drive failure, there are many
other likely scenarios that may result in the
loss of your valuable files like power failures
and spikes, or system and file corruption due
to viruses, worms, or other malicious attacks.
to store a copy of all your important
files in a different location to where
your computer is situated. It's not a
great deal of use having the copy of
your files on your external hard drive
which is constantly plugged into your
computer. A thief won't leave your additional
drive for you to recover your lost files,
a fire or flood won't distinguish between
your computer and your external drive.
At the very least, keep your copy in
a different location in your home. If
possible, keep your backup copy in an
entirely different building.
Some choose to backup their data onto
remote servers via File Transfer Protocol
(FTP) or by other means. Others use the
services of off-site backup over the
Internet. Be mindful however that your
data is your responsibility. The moment
you transfer that data to a third party
to keep safe, new risks involving the
potential compromise of that services'
availability and security arise.
The Ultimate Backup
||There are circumstances
when a backup might also be inadvertently
or over-written. Regularly creating a third
backup stored in a different location,
although less convenient to administer,
provides you with the greatest security
against losing your data. If however you
are unlikely to backup often to this third
location, it's not going to be worth your
while as a backup needs to be updated frequently
to be of any value.
What Data Should Be Backed Up?
In addition to your pictures, videos, music,
Microsoft ® Office documents, spreadsheets,
databases, Internet Explorer Favorites and/or
Firefox bookmarks, emails etc, you'll also
want to keep a copy
the programs you use so that if necessary they
may be easily reinstalled at a later date.
It would be advisable therefore to copy any
new programs you download and install them
from the Internet in a special folder that
backed up as part of your backup routine.
One especially important program to backup
is the program you use for the backup procedure
itself. You'll also need to save the serial
number for this program and others in a secure
yet memorable location so you can restore your
backup to the original location at a later
date should you need to.
If you use your computer for business purposes
you will also need to backup all the information
from your financial software, inventory control,
customer databases, and other specialist business
Finding Your Files
Here are some directions of a few places you
can check for where your important files are
that systems may have been set up
and you may need to take a little time to find
the location of particular files on your computer.
If you experience difficulties use the Windows
search tool available by going to Start >
For the average user there are two main locations
where you will probably backup files from:
My Documents which
will most likely contain your day to day files
like Word files etc.,
stores application specific settings and files.
One of the easiest ways to locate My
Documents is to open Windows
Explorer by right clicking Start then
clicking Explore from
the pop-up menu.
At the top left of the Explorer window (see
below) you will see the My
underneath the Desktop icon.
You can now use the "+" and "-" signs
to explore the folders:
Path to Your Application Data
and Settings\All Users\Application Data
Note how the path above to the Application
Data is different than the illustration that
follows for Outlook Application Data. You will
need to check how your own system is configured.
be a matter
of using Windows Explorer.
Folders Files (.pst)
The Personal Folder file (.pst / PST) is the
place where Outlook stores its data (when you're
using Outlook without Microsoft® Exchange
Each Personal Folder file contains all of your
Outlook folders, including the In box, Calendar,
and Contacts. You may have a single .pst file
(usually called Internet
Personal Folders in
your Folder List), and you
may also have an additional .pst file that
you use to archive messages (named Archive
Folders). By backing up these
PST files you will be backing up all your Outlook
You can find the location of the main PST file
by right-clicking on the Outlook
found in your Outlook shortcuts, or the Outlook
Today icon found in your folder
list and then left-clicking Properties.
Once the Properties dialog box is displayed,
click the Advanced button.
The Path... shown indicates where
your Personal Folder file can be found. An
example path follows:
drive:\Documents and Settings\User\Local
Go to the Outlook Express
menu and select Tools > Options > Maintenance then
click the Store
Folder button. You'll see
a dialog with the name of the directory that
has your mail files. If you look in that
directory you'll find files named after your
mail folders and news groups. They all have
a .DBX suffix.
All your Outlook Express messages are kept
in these database files. If you make
copies of these files regularly, you'll have
a safe backup of your OE mail.
Internet Explorer Favorites
Right click Start > Explore.
When Windows Explorer opens go to Tools > Folder
Options > View.
Select Show hidden
files and folders, then
go to drive:\Documents
and Settings\User Name\Favorites.
You may need to right click unhide.
All bookmarks are stored in a file called
bookmarks.html and is stored in the profile
folder, a typical example being:
Settings\All Users\[Log-in Name]\Application
To make an exact copy of your drive, including
your Windows operating system, you must use
'disk imaging' software. Disk imaging copies
the entire disk (the parts that are used) bit-by-bit.
This results in a copy that will take up a
lot of disk space, and take much longer to
isn't generally the best answer to
backing up for a number of reasons.
Your Windows operating environment is constantly
changing. Programs are installed, updated,
uninstalled, and settings are changed. Many
important security specific applications are
also regularly and automatically updated. Anyone
for example who users their computer to connect
to the Internet should have in place Anti-Virus,
Firewall, and Anti-Spyware programs that often
update many times a week.
Another significant reason why creating a
disk image of your drive is not an advisable
routine backup procedure is that any and all
misconfigurations of your system, dormant security
threats, and the vast amount of junk data that
is created and stored on your system, will
also be copied. Much of this junk data cannot
be deleted as it is generated behind the scenes
in your system. This results in a decrease
in performance and speed, and can also lead
to system instability.
Lastly if you change your computer then it's
very possible that you won't be able to restore
from a disk image as that disk image contains
all the drivers and settings for your previous
computers hardware, which is probably completely
different (e. g. different motherboard).
These issues, combined with the much longer,
costlier (more disks), and less convenient
(more time consuming) disk imaging process
inevitably means that for the average user,
disk imaging is carried out far less frequently
than the kind of backup that only copies your
documents and information (usually under the
'My Documents' folder). Always remember that
making regular backups to a different location
is the key to an effective backup strategy.
People who use disk imaging often use file
backup programs as well. For example, they
take a snapshot of their hard disk using the
disk imaging software, e. g. every week, month,
or at ad-hoc times, but use the file backup
program to make regular backups of their important
files, e. g. scheduled every day or even hourly.
When doing a restore they first restore the
disk image then restore their files using the
file backup program.
How Often Should You Make a Backup of Your
||If you work on your documents
each day, you need to backup at least once
a day. If you accidentally delete a file,
or a program crashes while you're working
on a document, you need to be in a position
where you can click a button to recover
that file from your backup copy, so you
may well want to run the backup program
in the background. The more impressive
backup programs can also copy open and
locked files so that a backup can be made
even when you're working on a document.
Many people benefit from backing up on a very
regular basis throughout the day. Writers for
example may be working on a draft and may wish
to review an earlier version of that draft
as they progress. This kind of incremental
backup is also possible depending on the backup
software you use so that you can effectively
roll-back to an earlier version of your document.
What Should You Backup Onto?
There are many different types of media that
you may choose to backup onto, and each has
their own advantages and disadvantages. The
first thing you'll have to work out is what
suits your particular circumstance.
It's generally a good idea to choose media
that allows you to backup all the data you
wish to without having to 'span' the backup.
For example, you may need many CDRs to backup
all your information. The problem with this
kind of backup is that it requires your intervention
to replace the new media as each disk is required.
A backup that can automatically run without
your intervention will save you a great deal
of time over the long run. An external USB
hard drive for example can plug straight into
a computer and provide an instant large capacity
space for your backups.
If you're a personal computer user
the most immediate medium you're probably going
to consider is to backup to CDR/W or DVDR/W,
however these mediums are also less stable
over longer periods of time than you might
realize. For pure convenience there's nothing
than making relatively small capacity backups
to a USB memory stick that you can easily plug
in, and then transfer to another location.
If you're a business with existing backup procedures,
you may be using tape backup (which can be
sensitive to heat, magnetism etc), or you may
be implementing a removable hard disk procedure.
Whatever you choose make sure your chosen
media is easy to use, requires as little intervention
as possible, and can easily be scheduled.
Improving Backup Procedures
If you already have a backup routine it's
prudent to check it's doing what you expect,
and if necessary, to make adjustments to ensure
it's performing to your best advantage. Take
care to read through and understand the documentation
that comes with your backup program as there
may be specific customizations that you may
wish to make. For example, you may want to
configure your backup so that the program verifies
that files are copied correctly, and that the
backup makes safe copies by using temporary
file names before renaming the file given the
copy is successful.
Some backup programs assist you in the evaluation
of effective backup procedures by allowing
you to test any backup you do with a simulated
run. This allows you to check the backup routine
functions correctly without actually copying
||It's very easy
to have your important files backed up
without you having to remember to do
so. The backup can be done automatically,
every day, while you sleep. It can be done
while you're on holiday or out of the office.
Computers are designed to help automate
tasks, so let your computer and software
automate your backups.
The Solution to Backing Up
||There's a simple
solution to ensuring a backup copy of all
your important files has been created so
that if an unfortunate event occurs that
results in the unwanted loss of your data,
it's easy to restore that data.
This may be a single file that you've inadvertently
deleted, or all the documents you've worked
on or stored at one time or another.
SyncBackSE and SyncBackPro from www.2brightsparks.com
allows users to easily and automatically backup
file you write to (Word, image, media etc.).
These multi-award winning programs can even
backup open and locked files which means your
can be backed up as you're working. Other
highlights include: Fast Backup and Smart Synchronization;
Powerful FTP engine & AES
encryption; Superb Feature-Set and Customization;
Generous Licensing Policy; and Extensive
The flagship product, SyncBackPro provides
even more great advantages: backup to CD/DVD
with disk spanning; backup to your email account;
configure the program and profiles using your
own script; a higher compression
rate than Zip making FTP and email backups
faster, and lessening the load on network
backups; and S.M.A.R.T.
Warnings that check for drive warnings
As well as backing up and restoring your data,
SyncBackSE can also allow you to safely and
easily synchronize files between two different
directories. Those files could be on different
drives, different computers, different devices,
or even over the Internet via FTP.
You perform a backup when you want to keep
a second copy of your files. A backup doesn't
change your original files. If you accidentally
delete a file, or make changes you don't want,
etc. then you can restore the original file
from the backup.
When synchronizing however, you are copying
files between two computers or storage mediums,
e.g. your hard disk and an external USB drive.
Perhaps you've got a desktop computer and a
notebook computer and have copies of the same
on both computers. You may be changing those
files either on your desktop or notebook depending
on the situation. With synchronization, files
are copied from one to the other based on when
they were last changed. Files may also be deleted,
e.g. you delete a file on your notebook and
so want the same file on your desktop to
The following graphic shows different synchronizing
This additional functionality and outstanding
customization of SyncBackSE, together with
an industry leading online Support Area and
superb help file, sets this program apart from
Backing up your data is your one essential
task. If you haven't tried SyncBackSE, download
the free trial today from www.2brightsparks.com.
Whatever you do, backup each and every day
from here on in, and don't be one of those
many who at this very moment are wishing they
Experts Choose SyncBackPro, and Users
Vote for SyncBackSE As Their #1 Software
SyncBackPro has acheived a 100/100 Smart Rating in 2011 & 2012 which reflects the weighted average of scores from the most trusted experts.
was #1 in the People's Choice Awards
voting through PC World for two consecutive years.
You'll be pleased to hear that today SyncBackSE has improved a great deal since being awarded the People's Choice Awards as a result of constant updates, and SyncBackPro delivers even more power and performance.
received the largest number
of votes through
PC World of any software product
in the 2007 and 2008 Shareware
Industry Awards. The SIAF "People's Choice
Awards" were created so software
users would have the opportunity
to vote for their favorite software
While we have numerous awards from technical reviewers, being
selected as a People's Choice winner
by the public gives all of us at
2BrightSparks the greatest pleasure,
and is the best indication that our software should
Backup Guide [513
KB] is available as a
fully searchable, and printable PDF e-book.
The Backup Guide is also available in Help