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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 January 21, 2020

              Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

              Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

              Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

              This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

              The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

              The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

              Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

              Curiosity

              Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

              People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

              Patience

              Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

              When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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              Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

              A Feeling for Connectedness

              This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

              A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

              The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

              How to Self-Taught Effectively

              With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

              1. Research

              Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

              Learning the Basics

              Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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              Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

              What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

              Hitting the Books

              Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

              Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

              Long-Term Reference

              While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

              My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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              2. Practice

              Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

              A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

              Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

              Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

              3. Network

              One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

              These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

              Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

              Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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              4. Schedule

              For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

              Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

              Final Thoughts

              In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

              If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

              At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

              More About Self-Learning

              Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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