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How do you best BACKUP files on your laptop? (Windows2000)


Rasu's Avatar
Rasu Rasu is offline
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Location: California
17-Apr-2002, 05:04 PM #1
Question How do you best BACKUP files on your laptop? (Windows2000)
Hi guys...

I was just wondering... what is the best way to do backups of data on your laptop? I just dread the possibility (as bleak as it may be) of my laptop crashing or being stolen!

I have a CD-RW. Should I do selective backups of certain files only? How often should I do this, and how long does it take? Should I also back up my Outlook files (emails)?

Thank you for your suggestions.

Nick Scott's Avatar
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17-Apr-2002, 06:08 PM #2
Do you have a desktop as well to which you can network it? If so backups are a doddle.

I back up my laptop (Win2K) to my desktop (XP Pro) with a good old fashioned batch file. I have about 8 GB of data on the laptop and backup rarely takes more than 30 seconds.

The secret is to remember that of your massive data files, relatively few change from week to week. You only need to back up those that have changed or been created since the last backup. You also don't need to back up system files, so you can ignore those.

I have created "mirror" data directories on the desktop. The batch when executed maps a network drive to those, then xcopy's all of the data from the laptop to the desktop folders, with the appropriate switches to avoid needless overwriting of unchanged files already there and duplication. On completion it unmaps the network drives and exits.

Here we have a network server which backs up all the workstations to tape as well (for the full belt AND braces approach).

If you don't have a desktop, you might consider an external hard drive if a CD-RW is too small for the full amount of data you have got to back up.
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jcandiff jcandiff is offline
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19-Apr-2002, 11:34 AM #3
invest $80 in an external ZIP drive. A 100 mb zip drive should be more than enough storage room to copy your important data on. Alternatively, you can spend about $140 to get a reliable cd burner to burn disks. I dont think there is a need to back up the entire OS because the OS can be simply reinstalled and you can use your backup to retreive your data. This is especially true if your lap top is stolen.
Chances are, you would be getting a new lap top if your lap top got stolen and it would already be preloaded with the OS. Therefore you would only need to retrieve crusial data and not the entire Hard Drive from the old lap top
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Rasu Rasu is offline
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19-Apr-2002, 01:57 PM #4
Thank you guys for your answers.

Nick, I do have a desktop at my office room that is networked and could be used for backups.

Could you PLEASE guide me as to how I could do batch backups similar to what you described in your last response? I have Windows 2000 on my laptop, and Windows 98 (!!) on the desktop.

How do I create the mirror data directories as you have mentioned?

I do have an external CD-RW but as you mentioned, there's too much data to back up in one CD.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you!
Nick Scott's Avatar
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19-Apr-2002, 08:25 PM #5
OK. The first thing to ask is whether the two computers are networked? If they are to create the mirror directories the easiest thing is simply to copy your entire data directory (or directories if you have more than one) over the network from the laptop onto the desktop. Try to keep it all "top level" if you can so as to keep the later mapping of network drives simple. This first copy of all of the data may take a while. Don't worry, its much faster after the first time.

Once you have done that, share the top level folders of each data directory that you have created. Try to avoid putting spaces in the names if you can.

Now you are ready for your batch file to keep the two sets of directories synchronised. The batch file needs to go on the laptop and is run from there.

Open up notepad and type in

@echo Automatic file backup:
@echo This batch file will backup all important files to a mirror location on
@echo another PC.
@echo Note: its best to close all other programs before running this.
@echo Hit ctrl-c to abort so you can close other programs or

That starts the batch and/or stops it so you can close programs.

The first part of the job is to map network drives. I have used variables, which you will need to change to fit the names of your machines and the structure of your data drives and mirror directories.

net use R: \\%target_PC_name%\%mirror_directory_name%

Use as many mapped drives as you have top level mirror directories.

Then you need to copy the data.

xcopy "C:\my documents\*.*" "R:\my documents" /d/s/y/i

Note that you only need to enclose the paths in inverted commas if there is a space in the name somewhere. The switches tell it not to copy older files than are on the target and not to stop on errors etc.

Once all of the data has been copied you disconnect the mapped network drives.

net use R: /d

and finish the batch with the command


Save the notepad file as something like backup.bat (make sure it doesn't add a txt extension, and when you double-click on it the batch will run.
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