How To Backup Your Files To An External Drive Using SyncBack
The Importance of Backups
For most of us, losing files is a frustrating inconvenience at best. In many cases, the files we have on our computers may even be irreplaceable. What files do you have that would be gone forever if your computer crashes? Music collections, family photos, contacts, homework? I've had a lot of clients over the years that have lost a lot of files and documents that were very important to them due to some kind of computer issue. Sometimes I can recover some or all of the files for them, but sometimes the damage is too severe and there's nothing that can be done.
I recommend either backing up your files online or to an external hard drive. This is a guide to the latter. I'll skip the process of setting up an external hard drive, as most are immediately recognized by your computer after you plug them in. Instead, we'll start with setting up SyncBack, a free utility for synchronizing or backing up your files.
As I mentioned earlier, SyncBack is a free utility for backing up files. Installing it is simple enough, just go through the installation wizard and select the defaults. When you run SyncBack for the first time, you'll get the following message:
Go ahead and click "Yes" on this screen to continue. In SyncBack, a profile is simply a file or directory that will be backed up. You will likely need multiple profiles to backup all of your files. After opting to create a new profile, you will be presented with the following:
Here you can select to either backup or synchronize your files. Select the Backup option for this step. The Backup option will ensure that files will remain on your external hard drive, even if they are accidentally deleted from your backup directory. Click OK, and you'll be asked to name your profile.
Name your profile anything you like. The name is just there so you'll know what files or folders are getting backed up. I'll be backing up my music collection, so I will name this profile "Music." Click OK after you have entered a name. Next we'll be configuring the settings for your new profile.
Above is the screen where you will confirm your settings. You'll need to specify a "Source" and "Destination" directory. The "Source" folder is where your files are currently located. I've selected the default location for the "My Music" directory on my computer. The "Destination" directory I've set is just an empty folder I've created on my external hard drive. This will copy everything from the source directory to the folder on my external drive.
Below this is the "Sub-dirs" option. I've selected to include all sub-directories and their files, as I want everything within the "My Music" folder to be backed up.
By default, the "Backup the source directories files, including all its sub-directories" option is set, which is the correct option for our scenario.
From here, you can check out the Advanced tab if you like, and verify the settings there. By default, it will overwrite your destination directory with the files in your source if they are newer. If a file is deleted from your source directory, however, it will remain in the destination directory. This way, if you accidentally delete a file, it will still be on your external drive.
This brings us back to SyncBack's main screen. As you can see, I have two profiles set up. One for Documents and one for Music. You can set up new profiles from here, just click on the "Profiles" option and select "New." You'll follow the same procedure that we went through above.
You'll also want to select the "Start with Windows" option under the "Preferences" menu. This way SyncBack will start automatically each time you turn your computer on. This is important to make sure the automatic backups execute properly.
Finally, you can check the scheduled backups for your profiles. By default, the backups will run at 5:00 AM every day. You can also run them at any time from within the SyncBack application. You can also right-click on any profile and select the "Schedule" option to select the time and frequency with which the profile's backup will execute.
Enjoy the Security of Automatic Backups
Now you're set to have your important files backed up automatically to an external drive. Any new or updated files in your specified directories will automatically be copied over each night. If anything happens to your computer you can access your files by simply plugging the external drive into another PC.