Workstation Backup Solution

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Dear Experts,

I am looking for a good backup solution for my laptop.

I handle programming and DB administration, and some times graphic design. I have lots on my laptop and I can't keep manually copying changed files everyday to an external, as the changes involve so many areas and so many different files in a project.

I need something that backs up my hard disk and synchronizes it with the last back up so that I don't have to copy the entire thing again.

What do you recommend?

P.s. I use Windows 7.
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Most Valuable Expert 2015
Windows 7 has an integrated backup utility, you could try that one first...

Otherwise I suggest you either use the free backup tool of Paragon backup, which makes an image and then does differential backups. With this you have the advantage of being able to restore the complete OS and data from scratch (the tool allows you to create a booting CD so you can boot directly from that in case you need a restore):

Another simple backup tool that is free would be cobian, but you can't use it to restore the complete system:
you can also use SyncToy if you only need to syncronize  specific folders
Files have differant attributes the y are  hidden, system, Readonly and archive
when a file is edited / changed it change the attrib to "a" archive this is what backup s/w uses to differentiate between what has been changed and thus needs to be backed up.

The first time will be a FULL backup therafter only what has changed will be backed up.
This can be done as follows

xcopy32 c:\. /i/y/s/m e:\"Or whatever your external drive letter is"

/a      Copies files with the archive attribute set. This switch does not change the attribute.
/m      Copies files with the archive attribute set, and turns off the archive attribute.
/d:date      Copies files changed on or after the specified date.
/p      Prompts you before creating each destination file.
/s      Copies folders and subfolders except empty ones.
/e      Copies any subfolder, even if it is empty.
/v      Verifies each new file.
/w      Prompts you to press a key before copying.
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All depends what type of backup you want.

If you want to do full hard disk image you can have a look at Acronis TrueImage
which I use personally and I'm quite happy. You can do full image of the hard disk once a week and then incremental or differential backups every day.
In addition to that it allows you to mount image of the backup, so you can access files you have in computer image.
As free alternative for disk imaging software you might check:
Clonezilla -
Drive Image XML -

If you want to have file level backup I would recommend GoodSync:
which I use as well to replicate changes between my desktop computer and laptop as I tend to use both for my activities, so need to have recent version of documents on both of those.
This software can compare folders on 2 computers and replicate changes only, so it's quite efficient.
You can also have a look into free alternative for GoodSync:

For full backup I use ShadowProtect ( ).  It's easy to use, bulletproof, and once it's set up it's "set and forget."  It also lets you mount backups as drives and access individual files.  I do a full backup weekly and then incremetal backups a couple of times daily.  Restores (which I've had to do) are a matter of booting to a CD, accessing the restore you want, and letting it go.  Acronis is an equivalent product, so you may want to look at both.  These are image programs, so they look for drive level changes for incremental backups.

If you are interested in individual file synchronization, I concur with qf313k.  I use GoodSync religiously.  It's an exellent product for individual file sync and also has some automated features that let you sync to backup (I back up to NAS) automatically.  The link is

Finally, if you're sharing files and want sync, or want instant sync between several systems, I recommend DropBox.  It's simple to use and works very well.



Thank you all for the valuable replies and recommendations.

What I actually need is to have a backup on a daily basis of only the changed content of my files. So I guess the system will take a full image of the directory I have my work on, then update it with only changed content on on wards (synchronize).

My files are sql databases, code files, .net projects, and office files and adobe pdfs and psds.

Hope most of you stand on a specific software so that I don't get confused :)

Most Valuable Expert 2015

The tools I mentioned should fit exactly...



Let me try it out and get back to you please!




Does any backup application have any encryption option?
Most Valuable Expert 2015
You'd best ask the manufacturers of the utilities. In Paragon you can set a password, I don't know whether that amounts to encryption though.

If you backup to an archive file in cobian you can also password protect that.

But you could probably also backup to an encrypted file-system with any of the backup tools.

Those products I mentioned all are either free or have a free version available, so you could just try them out anyway.
ShadowProtect backs up whatever is on your hard drive, sector by sector.  As rindi mentioned, it also has password protection for the backup, but I can't speak for how it actually saves the data and whether it compresses/encrypts it in any way.  It does have a free trial, like the others, and also very good tech and sales support where you could make an inquiry.

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