There have been articles posted in ActiveRain about the importance of backing up your files to enable recovery after a hard disk failure. It's said that hard disk crashes are not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when" and that has certainly been my experience. I've had 2 hard drive failures but I'm fortunate that both times I had manual backups in place and only lost a month or so of files. Why a month? Well if you back up manually, it requires extreme dedication to do it every day and it's really not practical. In the real estate business, a month or more of lost files could be pretty awful!
Backup Solution + File Synchronization
There is an automated solution, it's free from Microsoft, and it does so much more than just a simple backup. It's called "Sync Toy" developed to aid in synchronizing photos on different computers. But it is not limited to just photos and works with all file types. The implementation is fantastic and allows you choose between synchronization or echo (a backup) of individual folders and subfolders. You will need at least 2 computers connected via a home network which many of us have these days. For example, I have a desktop PC and a laptop that I carry back and forth between home and office. They are networked at home so files can be transferred between them. And best of all, Windows allows you to automate the task so that it will run unattended every night while you sleep! Download it at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/synctoy.mspx. In case this link changes, you can find it with a simple search of "windows sync toy".
Use Sync Toy Echo To Backup
The echo function does a backup of a folder on one computer to a second computer. Files are never changed on the Computer 1 but any updates, additions, or deletions on the first computer are echo'd onto Computer 2. Only changes are copied from Computer 1 to Computer 2 as opposed to copying every file so the process very quick and it doesn't create duplicate files taking up extra hard drive space.
Use Sync Toy Synchronization (This is the real power of the tool!)
Synchronization is valuable in that any file modified on either of 2 computer will be modified on the other computer. How can this be useful? Well have you ever done updates to a real estate file on your home desktop only to arrive at the office with your laptop under your arm and discover it only has the old version? Wouldn't it be nice if you could work on your home desktop in the evening and know that the updates would be copied to your laptop while you sleep and it would be there for you the next morning? Synchronization does exactly that.
Sync Toy Interface
Sync toy is simple to set up. The image below is my implementation where I have 3 networked computers. In the left column you will see that I have set up 8 folders to be either echo'd or synchronized. Each can be run manually by selecting the item and clicking Run. But this is manual and it's possible to automate it to run "All Folder Pairs" each night with no intervention on your part. Windows Scheduled Tasks will do this for you.
Using Windows Scheduled Tasks to Automate
Windows has a build-in program for scheduling tasks (it's located in Accessories [ System Tools [ Scheduled Tasks). I found setup to be a snap and chose to have it run every night starting at 11 PM.
In the "Run" line I put "D:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\SyncToy.lnk" -R (yes, enter the parenthesis as shown). This may vary depending on where your program is loaded but make sure to put the "-R" at the end.
In the "Start In" line, I put "D:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs" (yes, enter the parenthesis as shown). Again, this may vary depending on where your program is loaded.
In the "Schedule" tab, enter the time and how often you want it to run.
One more thing!
Tip--Support information suggests that for automated running, it may be necessary to configure your computers for a Windows user login password. It's a Windows option to allow anyone to log in to your computer or to set up your own user login with a password. Indeed, I found that a login password was needed. This is a basic Windows User setup function, unrelated to either Snyc Toy or to Scheduled Tasks.
Hope you find this helpful. Happy Sync Toying!
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