Backing up your files is probably one of the most important things you could do. There is nothing worse than the feeling of loosing everything once your computer is on the fritz (I have received dozens of frantic phone calls asking how to, or if I can restore files). There are many commercial, shareware and freeware backup programs that are capable of accomplishing appropriate backups.
XCOPY has been included in the Microsoft® OS family since the DOS days. This little command prompt program copies file and folder information based upon the selection of a number of parameter options. This utility is lightweight and consists of a simple executable file. This is actually what I use for incremental backups of my personal system.
Open a command prompt and type xcopy /?. This displays a list of the xcopy.exe parameter options and their meaning. From the command prompt you can easily type in your xcopy command with the necessary parameters and you’ll be on your way. Personally I have a small batch file called backup.bat. This eliminates a lot of typing and the need to remember the options. This batch file is simple but extremely effective in giving me copies of the files I need. It consists of one line:
xcopy *.* c:\wutemp /S /C /I /M /F /R /H /K /Y /EXCLUDE:exclude.txt
My backup.bat file is located in the root of my profile directory, for this example we’ll say C:\Documents and Settings\BP. If you follow the parameters you’ll notice that I copy all the changed (archive bit set) files to C:\wutemp. This batch file will process the current folder and with the appropriate parameter set (/S) all subfolders as well. Once the backup batch is complete I them manually copy the files to DVD. If you are running a ‘full’ backup you would remove the /M parameter option.
I am fairly structured and organized when it comes to my files. I try to get everything that I need somewhere within the tree of my profile directory. Most applications these days store personal information in the Application Data of your profile directory or allow you to specify a ‘storage’ location. A lot of applications also store temporary or unimportant (unimportant in the sense of need to restore files in the event of a need to recover files) files in your profile directory as well. This is where the /EXCLUDE parameter comes into play. After all, it is really wasteful both time and space wise to back up all those temporary files.
My exclude.txt file looks something like this:
\DOCUME~1\BP\MY DOCUMENTS\MY MUSIC
\DOCUME~1\BP\LOCAL SETTINGS\TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES
This is just an example on how I use XCOPY to back up my important files on my personal computer. In my opinion this is fast, lightweight and effective when it comes to storing those must have files. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you could possibly implement a simple backup solution.