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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 April 8, 2019

              22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

              22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

              Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

              Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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              1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
              2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
              3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
              4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
              5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
              6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
              7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
              8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
              9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
              10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
              11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
              12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
              13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
              14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
              15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
              16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
              17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
              18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
              19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
              20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
              21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
              22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

              Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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