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BOINC is an open-source volunteer oriented distributed computing grid. It’s free, and harnesses the unused clock cycles from processors and graphics cards to attempt to cure cancer/AIDS/Ebola, map the Milky Way galaxy, fold proteins, search for extraterrestrial life, and others.

Windows Backup Strategy

My files are important. My wife’s files are important. We’ve BOTH had issues with people deleting our shit or our hard drives dying in the past…multiple times. Did I mention my files are important? I have 200GB of pictures alone that I won’t be able to recover if stuff hits the fan. Not good! So I devised a backup plan that involves a system mirroring data, doing full backups, incremental backups, external hard drives, and online backups. My system isn’t for everybody, but I like to know my data is secure “just in case”.

Tools needed:

  1. Areca, and open-source, full-featured backup utility.
  2. Robocopy, a file-copy utility from Microsoft (Comes with windows Vista and above.  For earlier versions, use The Server 2003 Resource Kit)
  3. Online backup service.  I use Mozy.

Now here’s how my computers are setup. My machine and my wife’s computers both run windows. On a 3rd computer, we have ESXi server running with a windows VM in it. We’ll call that VM the backup server. (I also do other things with it like run Quicken on it so we both can access it.) Now, for the normal backups, we run Areca, which allows us to set up a backup to a shared drive on the backup server. I set hers to backup the following subfolders under her profile (which may be “C:\Users\<Users Profile>\” or “C:\Documents And Settings\<Users Profile>\” depending on which version of windows you’re running:

  • Contacts
  • Desktop
  • Downloads
  • Favorites
  • My Documents
  • My Music
  • My Pictures
  • My Videos
  • Saved Games
  • AppData\Roaming\.purple (to get all her Pidgin logs and settings)

The above folders may exists in other folders depending on your Windows version, or may not exist at all.

Now, once I got those set in the backup set, I set it to do a Full Backup, that I know it has a full copy of all the files. Next, you can use Windows task scheduler (or manually) to set it to run once a month. You can generate the .bat file needed to schedule this by right-clicking your backup set, choosing Wizards, then Generate Backup Shortcut… After that’s done, generate another to do an incremental backup, then schedule task scheduler to run that daily at a time when the computer will be online, but nobody will be on it. Once that’s done, you got the machines backing up to the server!

Now, if you have a lot of extra data that won’t change, like pictures, music, etc., it might be a better idea to just mirror the data instead. This won’t give you the “versioning” control that a full backup strategy does, but since the data is never changing, it won’t matter. To do this, I use Robocopy.

Now, to get your data to backup, create a new text document named backup.bat or whatever you want. but make sure it ends in .bat.  Inside of it, put the following contents:

@echo off
echo Pictures…
c:\robocopy.exe “F:\pictures” “\\winxp\Pictures” /MIR /LOG:”C:\backup.txt” >NUL
echo Websites…
REM c:\robocopy.exe “F:\websites” “\\winxp\websites” /MIR /LOG+:”C:\backup.txt” >NUL

Every other line is bolded so you know when it’s wrapping and should only be one line long.

Now, in the lines above, change the location for robocopy to what it needs to be, and chagne the locations for where the files are backing up from (the F: drive above) and to (the \\winxp server).  The /MIR command is telling it to MIRROR the data, which basically means that it will make an exact copy of the data.  If you delete data on your computer and re-run that .bat file, it will delete it on the server.  The backup.txt file is where you want the log to go.  ONLY use /LOG: for the first line in thing in the file you’re backing up because it will erase the backup.txt file before it writes to it.  Always use /LOG+: so it appends the data to the end of the file.  Finally, the >NUL statement basically means to hide all messages…which is good since all the messages are getting logged to the file anyway.  Now, to backup other locations, just copy the last two lines from above and change the information accordingly.

For my external hard drive, I use the same robocopy scripts, except I have them sitting on the external hard drive (which is encrypted with TrueCrypt (another post)) which I store in the trunk of my car.

The final piece of the puzzle is in case of a catastrophic act of God, like a flood.  This is where online backup comes in handy.  I’ve tried a bunch of services, but for the price, Mozy is by far one of the best online backup tools.


Mike is tech geek known for his creation of programs in bizarre but awesome fashion. He's an avid photographer, reader, cinephile, programmer, and into anything geeky; he'll be glad to talk about anything ranging from MMO's to PHP.

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