Flat-file DVD backup program

mrmut used Ask the Experts™
Situation: I have about 400GB of files at a HDD that I wan't to backup. There are no files larger than DVD size.

I need this to work on Windows.


I need a backup program that will work in a conjunction with my DVD burner, and will do a following:

1. take entire root directory, and burn all files from it consecutively on DVDs
2. will do it in a simple manner, putting all directories in ROOT of each DVD
3. will not use any of its proprietary backup indexes, formats, etc. - I wan't files to be normally accessed with any PC.
4. will break up folders that are too large in a way: "Folder Name - 1 of 3," or simmilar.

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Don't do it.

Just buy an external USB hard drive and copy it to that. It is just not worth the trouble to copy it all to so many DVDs.

Many of these drives come with a program to copy data or just use xcopy.

for example xcopy c:\ g:\ /s
to copy everything from c: to g:.  

XCOPY source [destination] [/A | /M] [/D[:date]] [/P] [/S [/E]] [/V] [/W]
                           [/C] [/I] [/Q] [/F] [/L] [/G] [/H] [/R] [/T] [/U]
                           [/K] [/N] [/O] [/X] [/Y] [/-Y] [/Z]

  source       Specifies the file(s) to copy.
  destination  Specifies the location and/or name of new files.
  /A           Copies only files with the archive attribute set,
               doesn't change the attribute.
  /M           Copies only files with the archive attribute set,
               turns off the archive attribute.
  /D:m-d-y     Copies files changed on or after the specified date.
               If no date is given, copies only those files whose
               source time is newer than the destination time.
               Specifies a list of files containing strings.  Each string
               should be in a separate line in the files.  When any of the
               strings match any part of the absolute path of the file to be
               copied, that file will be excluded from being copied.  For
               example, specifying a string like \obj\ or .obj will exclude
               all files underneath the directory obj or all files with the
               .obj extension respectively.
  /P           Prompts you before creating each destination file.
  /S           Copies directories and subdirectories except empty ones.
  /E           Copies directories and subdirectories, including empty ones.
               Same as /S /E. May be used to modify /T.
  /V           Verifies each new file.
  /W           Prompts you to press a key before copying.
  /C           Continues copying even if errors occur.
  /I           If destination does not exist and copying more than one file,
               assumes that destination must be a directory.
  /Q           Does not display file names while copying.
  /F           Displays full source and destination file names while copying.
  /L           Displays files that would be copied.
  /G           Allows the copying of encrypted files to destination that does
               not support encryption.
  /H           Copies hidden and system files also.
  /R           Overwrites read-only files.
  /T           Creates directory structure, but does not copy files. Does not
               include empty directories or subdirectories. /T /E includes
               empty directories and subdirectories.
  /U           Copies only files that already exist in destination.
  /K           Copies attributes. Normal Xcopy will reset read-only attributes.
  /N           Copies using the generated short names.
  /O           Copies file ownership and ACL information.
  /X           Copies file audit settings (implies /O).
  /Y           Suppresses prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an
               existing destination file.
  /-Y          Causes prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an
               existing destination file.
  /Z           Copies networked files in restartable mode.
Most Valuable Expert 2015

I agree with the above. Also, if you would copy files from an HD to DVD, they automatically would get the "Read-Only" attribute, as a DVD is a read only media. Because of that, a lot of software wouldn't work when you copy the files back to HD, as they are still marked "Read-Only". You'd have to change the attributes of the files again manually which is a lot of work (and you might not know what the original attributes were.

That's one reason why backup software creates archive files inside which the backed up files are stored, they then keep their original attributes, and this container usually also compresses files that can be compressed, saving space. So if you want to backup to a CD or DVD, at least use something like 7-Zip to first pack them into an archive.

Another thing, when you want to copy all your windows folders from within Windows, a lot won't work, as many files are open, and those can't be copied properly with simple copy software. If you want to backup your Windows system files, you need to boot the PC from another OS, not the installed one, so no files are open. You'd need a dedicated backup software that uses VSS or some other Open-File Agent if you want to do the backup from within your OS, and these backup tools all use their backup formats, so the files of the backup won't be directly accessible.


Don't worry guys, I do have a regular backup. ;-)
DVD media saved my behind many times before, so I want to some other stuff that got accumulated over time and are actually read only.
I really would need a program I've described. I have tried Nero, but I don't like its way of doing it.
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Most Valuable Expert 2015

Then just use any burning software, pick the files you want, using that tool, and burn your DVD. That's the easiest way. A free tool is CDBurnerXP:



Well, I knew that before, didn't I? :-)
I would like that file selection and burning would be done with a program - automatically, so I just exchange DVDs. Otherwise, that ends as a laborious, and pretty nonsensical task.
If you're doing your copy with a standard CD-burning program, you can mark certain directories to be copied, and then save the job.   The same directories will be copied again next time, including new files or subdirectories created in the marked directories.

One of the challenges you will have with DVD-based backup is that you're talking about 400GB, which is over 40 single-layer, or 80+ disks on a dual-layer DVD.   Managing that number of disks will get to be a real headache, no matter what you do.  And the burning process will take forever.

If you use a typical backup program to perform the copy, you'll have a very large possibility of a disk that goes bad, which means that any data on disks written later is likely to be unreadable.  

If you don't use some sort of backup program, then you will have to manually decide how to arrange the files on the DVD media so that you don't have hundreds of disks, each only partly filled.

Those are the reasons a hard drive backup was recommended.

There is another hard-drive alternative that may work for you; the HP RDX drive -- http://www.hp.com/go/rdx -- will back up your data to removable, ruggedized hard drive cartridges, automatically back up your data, and perform deduplication as well, so that duplicate blocks are not stored more than once.  You can explore the backed up files using Windows Explorer, and restore either individual files/directories, or your whole system.   Since it's a removable disk, you can have a 2- or 3-cartridge rotation, with one always being kept off-site.

Other than that...  buy a used LTO-2 (200GB) or LTO-3 (400GB) tape drive (make sure that it comes with the single-server edition of a backup application, or use Windows' NTBackup) and a couple of tapes.  Giant businesses use tape reliably as a backup medium, and it works well.    You'll realize how much of a good idea it is when you compare the number of pieces of media you'll have to store for each backup, as well as your time in swapping one or two tapes vs. 50 or 100 DVDs.  (the capacities listed above are native; tape drives perform automatic compression, and you may see significantly greater data stored per tape, depending on the type of data you're backing up.)


Thank you a lot, but that is not the question. I have a specific need, and that need is to get a DVD based backup.
I have used tapes before, 40/80 DLT with NTbackup, and I didn't liked that. In unmanaged environment tapes are a very bad idea, as data retention on them is problematic if they are not stored properly. DVDs are almost indestructible for 5+ years for cheap ones, and significantly more for quality DVDs.
I will repeat what I need, slightly edited for understanding:
- a backup program that will work in a conjunction with my DVD burner, and will do a following:

1. take files and directories from root directory, and that data consecutively on DVDs
2. backups will be done in a simple manner, putting all directories in ROOT of each DVD
3. will not use any of its proprietary backup indexes, formats, etc. - I want files to be normally accessed with any PC.
4. will break up folders that are too large in a way: "Folder Name - 1 of 3," or similar.

There are many reasons I want this, and not other solutions.
Most Valuable Expert 2015

That isn't a real backup. It is just copying files. A backup, when done to disk or optical media, always creates a container file. So there is no backup software which will do what you want.


By definition backup is a copy of the file outside of the system. As I said, Nero does something like this, tho I don't like that, so I ask for a variation of that.
Looks like there is no variation that meets your needs.

With a bit of programming on your part, you could build such a solution, or pay someone to build it for you.  But that is beyond the scope of this forum.

You'd want to be able to select the directories as part of a job, then save that job with the ability to modify it later.  You want the option of resetting the archive bit or not.  You want the option of backing up only files with the archive bit set, or all.   And you need some sort of intelligence to figure out how to pack the files on the disks with minimal free space and minimal (or no) splitting of files.   Each disk should also probably have the date as part of its name.   Perhaps an index of all files and which disk each was on would be a nice thing to save on the last disk.

Have fun!


:-)  -  I will accept your advice as solution, as it pretty nicely outlines what is needed to be done.
I will probably use Nero, as it does everything you stated + some other stuff.


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