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Four ways to automatically backup your hard drive

Four ways to automatically backup your hard drive

There are many pieces of software that are available to help you backup your hard drive. However in my opinion, the simplest and most customizable way of backing up your hard drive is to do so with a homemade script. I will show you how to create a very simple script that will backup your entire hard drive on the first run. With each successive run of the script, it will only backup the files that have been modified. I will show you how to set it up so that you can backup your hard drive automatically without interrupting your work flow and without hampering any productivity. No longer will you unnecessarily lose any files again! I will show you how to do the following:

  • 1. Backup your hard drive on startup without using any extra software
  • 2. Backup your hard drive at scheduled intervals using AutomaticDailyBackup.bat
  • 3. Backup your hard drive at scheduled intervals using Windows Task Scheduler
  • 4. With the use of Xecutor, backup only the files you’ve changed on shutdown

This tutorial is demonstrated using Windows XP, however it will extend equally well into Windows Vista.

The first step is to create the backup script. The script is very short and very easy to create. First, open Notepad (Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> Notepad) and copy and paste the following text into your Notepad file:

cd c:\
xcopy c: e:\AutomaticDailyBackup /s /e /t /h /D

Make sure that you copy the text onto two separate lines exactly as it is shown above. Also, please note that this script will backup your hard drive to an external location at e:\. If your external hard drive is located at another location, you will want to change the e:\ to a letter that corresponds to your specific external hard drive. Also, if you do not have a folder called “AutomaticDailyBackup” (I’m betting you won’t) in your e:\ drive you should create the folder manually.

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Save your Notepad file with the name “AutomaticDailyBackup.bat” it is very important to include the “.bat” at the end of the file so Windows knows that it is a script and not just a plain-Jane text file. Additionally, please make sure you save the file to C:\. You can now close Notepad and you should have the file C:\AutomaticDailybackup.bat. This is shown below:

20070313-backup.JPG

    This script file will be used by three of the four methods of backing up your hard drive that are shown below.

    1. Backup your hard drive on startup without using any extra software

    This is probably the quickest and easiest way to backup your hard drive. Right-click on your AutomaticDailyBackup.bat file and select “Create Shortcut.” After you have created the shortcut, move it to Start >> All Programs >> Startup and your hard drive will get automatically backed up every time you log in. These two steps are shown below:

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    20070313-backup1.JPG

      20070313-backup2.JPG

        In order to prevent this file from interrupting your work flow when it is backing up your hard drive, right-click on the shortcut in your “Startup” folder and choose “Properties.” In the “Properties” dialog, change “Run Normal” to “Minimized” and click “OK.”

        2. Backup your hard drive at scheduled intervals using AutomaticDailyBackup.bat

        The second way to backup your hard drive is to schedule an automatic backup using Windows Task Scheduler. First, you need to open Task Scheduler (Start >> Control Panel >> Performance and Maintenance >> Scheduled Tasks).

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        Once you launch Windows Task Scheduler, click “Add Scheduled Task” and then click “Next.” On the “Click the program you want Windows to run” selection screen, click “Browse…” and choose C:\AutomaticDailyBackup.bat and click “OK”.

        20070313-backup3.JPG

          Choose the frequency you would like the task to run (I chose weekly) and click “Next.” Select the day and time you would like the task to run and click “Next.” Enter your password (if you have one), click “Next” and then click “Finish.” Your scheduled task is all set and it will execute itself automatically at the day and time you chose. If you would like to backup your hard drive more frequently (for example, two or three times per week) create several tasks identical to what is shown above and set them to run on different days of the week.

          3. Backup your hard drive at scheduled intervals using Windows Task Scheduler

          You probably noticed that Windows Task Scheduler has a backup utility built right into it. I prefer to use the AutomaticDailyBackup file to backup the hard drive because it has a finer-grained control of the backup process. However, if you prefer, simply select “Backup” (shown below) and Windows Task Scheduler will automatically control your backup.

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          20070313-backup4.JPG

            4. Backup your hard drive on shutdown

            In order to backup your hard drive on shutdown, you need to download Xecutor. Xecutor is a free download that you can download from the Xecutor homepage. Once you install Xecutor and run it for the first time, it will ask you if you want to run Xecutor on Startup — choose “Yes.”

            Next, select the “Shutdown” tab and then the green plus sign. On the properties screen, navigate to C:\AutomaticDailyBackup.bat and click “OK” (don’t worry about changing any other settings). You should see the following:

            20070313-backup5.JPG

              Now when you shutdown Windows, Xecutor will automatically run the AutomaticDailyBackup script.

              Hopefully you found at least one of the four ways to backup your hard drive useful. Coming from someone who lost everything on a hard drive without backing up, please don’t underestimate the importance of backing up your hard drive. If your hard drive crapped out right now, how much information (documents, music, pictures, videos, etc.) would you lose?

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              Last Updated on August 16, 2018

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

              No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

              Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

              Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

              A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

              Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

              In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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              The power of habit

              A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

              For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

              This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

              The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

              That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

              Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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              The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

              Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

              But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

              The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

              The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

              A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

              For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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              But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

              If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

              For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

              These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

              For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

              How to make a reminder works for you

              Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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              Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

              Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

              My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

              Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

              I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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