It goes without saying, the content stored on most users computers (that is, in the user directory) is important, regardless the content. That’s why it is imperative to have frequent backups of the data should something occur, such as Crypto.
Nowadays, there is a plethora of cloud services readily available to store your data in “the cloud“, free of any dangers – or so they say. But does that mean the era of local backups redundant? No! You should still take action to secure the integrity of your data locally should there be any issues.
What are the benefits we should look for in paid programs?
Whilst paid programs are not guaranteed to be better than freeware applications, they should come with the following features:
- Full / Incremental and Differential Backups
- Data Integrity Checks
- Scheduled Backups
- System Restores
- Notifications (Email perhaps)
- Save to SMB / NTFS Shares
- Compression and Splits
- Encrypted Backups
- Emergency disk and;
Having versatile backup schedules that can also run on demand, and log the process is paramount for maintaining backups. There is little point running a static (and manual) backup of a directory that is, say, 30Gb in size, if only 5Mb has been altered.
Are there any reasons why we should use free programs?
There are no real reason(s) not to use a free solution; they all serve the same function of backing up your data.
There are some freeware solutions that cater for all requirements listed in the paid application requirement list.
The only limitations I will advise on Freeware Applications are:
- You are not offered 24/7 support as some other programs do and;
- There is no guarantee the program is actively being maintained.
Whilst said, I still have 2 suggestions (Yes, use them in uniform!) for home users who do not wish to pay for a backup solution.
Noted in my question here, Cobian Backup offers a full suite of features for user backups. The application comes with a few decent tools, such as an inbuilt Decrypt function for backups encrypted with a user password (hint: you should encrypt!)
The most notable factor for me using Cobian is the ability to run it as a service, as another user; therefore allowing me to backup other user’s devices, on the local network, using their credentials to parse through NTFS permissions! Awesome!
This tool serves the same functionality of EaseUs ToDo, with the following setbacks:
- Not as pretty!
- No 24/7 Support!
- No Recovery Disk (That I am aware of) and;
- More reliant on Shadow Copy Service(s)
All in all, I would recommend this as a valid solution for home users.
The premise of this application is to mirror one directory to another. This is not a backup medium. So, let me draw a beautiful diagram indicating why you should use this:
Let’s say each computer in the diagram has Cobian backing up to a directory:
That’s all good and well, but we need to replicate that elsewhere. How? dSynchronize!
You set the parameter to copy from your initial directory to either:
C:\Users\$Username\Google Drive; C:\Users\$Username\Dropxbox or; \\shareIP\sharename\$username
What this achieves is redundancy:
- Your original copy exists in your Docs
- Your backup is stored on C:\CobianBackups\
- Your Dropbox and/or Google Drive has a copy and;
- Your local share has a copy.
This all of course takes into assumption you:
- Use Dropbox or another desktop client-cloud solution and;
- You use a local NAS with shares
This is just an example of what and why you would implement a tool such as dSynchronize for your data.
RAID is perhaps the most complex scenario for you to look into, so I will mostly refer you to other posts, that will do you more justice than I:
- Types of RAID (Levels and Usage)
- Standard Raid Levels
- How to setup RAID on Windows 10 (Post)
- How to setup RAID on Windows 7 / 8 and 10 (Video)
My only suggestion is to be careful regarding the risks of using RAID.
Using Windows Applications (RoboCopy)
If you want a simple script, you can use the following code to make a PowerShell function:
# Ensures script runs as administrator
If (-NOT ([Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal][Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent()).IsInRole([Security.Principal.WindowsBuiltInRole] “Administrator”))
$arguments = “& ‘” + $myinvocation.mycommand.definition + “‘”
Start-Process powershell -Verb runAs -ArgumentList $arguments
Once elevated, you can then use the following commands:
# Set the directories for a user
$dir1 = Read-Host ‘Enter your source directory (what you want backed up):’
$dir2 = Read-Host ‘Enter your backup directory:’
$time = Read-Host ‘How often would you like to check?:’
$logname = Read-Host ‘Where would like the log stored, and called?:’
# Runs Command to mirror directories, and runs again at X Time
robocopy.exe “$dir1” “$dir2″ /E /Z /LOG:”$logname”.txt /ETA /MOT:$time
This script will simply ask for your original directory and secondary directory, and will copy it over at X time, and log the output. A simple method if you want to do directory by directory backups, with no encryption.
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