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Backing up files without installing software

Posted on 2016-09-04
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Hello:

I cannot use an external hard drive on my Windows 7 laptop, and I don't want to install new software on the laptop to do so either.  (It's a long story.)

Is there a service out there that I can use to backup my files, without installing software?  

At least to a degree, price is not much of an issue.  I'm not necessarily looking for a free service.

The folder that I want to back up is over 40GBs.  I tried to copy it from my laptop to another, over a network.  But, it was very slow and kept prompting me with "Yes/No" questions.  So, I can't sit in front of a laptop for twenty hours and "nurse" the backup.

Thanks!

John
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Question by:John Ellis
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by:John Hurst
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You can use the COPY command to do this at no cost. Use COPY /? to see the options and suppress messages. That will work.

Without cost or software, you cannot speed up the network.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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You can use the Windows 7 built-in backup software to backup to a network location.

you could use Disk2VHD (microsoft tool, no install necessary) to copy your entire hard drive over the network.  You don't get prompted for file access in that case.

An explanation of WHY you can't use USB or other software would be helpful - perhaps you CAN do something you just don't realize it.... if you explain why we may be able to help.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
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Hi John,
I expect that most of the popular cloud storage sites allow you to upload/download via their web portals rather than installing an app. Here's my standard list of free cloud storage sites:

Amazon Cloud Drive
https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/learnmore

Box
https://www.box.com

Cubby
https://www.cubby.com

Dropbox
https://www.dropbox.com

Google Drive (previously called Google Docs)
https://drive.google.com

MS OneDrive (previously called SkyDrive)
https://onedrive.live.com

They vary in the amount of free storage they offer and in their features/functions. You should experiment with some (or all) of them to see which one works the best for you. For more than 40GB of storage, you'll need the non-free version for some of them.

In terms of being able to use them without downloading an app, as I said earlier, I suspect most, if not all, of them can do it via their web portals. I know for a fact that Cubby and Dropbox can. Of course, without the local app, automatic syncing won't work, but since that's not your interest, it doesn't matter — they will work for manually initiated upload (backup) and download (restore). Regards, Joe

Update: John, I just re-read your question and think that I may have misunderstood it. I thought that you want to back up to a cloud service (although "not necessarily looking for a free service") — is that the case? If not, what are you backing up to?
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by:John Ellis
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Hi All:

A cloud service is fine, as long as I don't have to install anything.

I thought that Dropbox required an installation, though.

Previously, I had been using an external hard drive to backup my folder once a month.  But, I got a message recently saying that I could not access that drive.  My guess is that a new Group Policy has been put in place to prevent me from doing so.  That's why I can't backup, as easily, anymore.

On those services, how long would it take to back up 40GB?

John
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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John,
It's your two uses of the word "service" that lead to the confusion. If all you want to do is backup/restore to/from a local network location, then you don't need a "service" and you don't need to install new software — there are ways to do it with software built into Windows.

Re "it was very slow", that's a network and/or PC issue. Is your network gigabit? Is your PC connection wired or wireless? If wired, is it gigabit? If wireless, is it N or AC?

Re "kept prompting me", that's an issue on the built-in copy and xcopy commands, if one of those is what you were using. There's an option on both to stop that:

/Y  Suppresses prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an existing destination file.

Regards, Joe
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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John,
Our messages just crossed. Dropbox does not require an installation. Simply visit its website, log in, and use the portal to upload/download. But 40GB can take a long time even with a high-speed Internet connection. Keep in mind that Internet speeds are typically quoted in bits per second, whereas the B in GB is bytes (with 8 bits to the byte), so you can get a ballpark time by doing the math if you know your Internet speed. Regards, Joe
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by:John Hurst
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Dropbox does install on all my computers using Dropbox, so I did not mention that solutions.

Pure software-free copy means COPY command (which I use and which works).
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by:Lee W, MVP
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If this is your personal data on a work laptop, then you should get your own laptop and store it there where you CAN appropriately back things up.  If this is company data on a company laptop, then speak to your IT staff about how to handle the backups.  Complain to your boss and the IT management if a good answer is not forthcoming.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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> Dropbox does install on all my computers using Dropbox, so I did not mention that solutions.

That's only because you chose to install it. You can log into your Dropbox account on the web and upload/download without any Dropbox software being installed on the PC — all you need is a web browser. Same is true for Cubby, and, I suspect, many of the cloud storage services.
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by:serialband
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If you're doing this for backup, robocopy.exe exists in Windows 7 and should copy your files.  If you aren't able to complete the copy in time, you can restart it and it will only copy files that have changed or haven't been copied over yet.
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by:John Ellis
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Hello:

Although I did not try Box or Amazone Cloud Drive, I did test Google Drive.  Overall, it seems perfect for my needs.

But, I tested with a 15-GB folder.  I projected, it would have taken at least 12 - 20 hours, to have uploaded via my wireless network.  And, again, my real folder for upload is over 40 GBs.

Although I don't like the idea of downloading compression software, I suppose that I will have to download and install WinRAR to zip up my 40 GB folder for uploading into Google Drive.

Before I go down that path, though, are there any other ideas?

Thank you, to all of you who have chimed in, to help!  :)

John
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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> Before I go down that path, though, are there any other ideas?

If this is an ongoing backup (rather than a one-time backup), then you're headed for trouble with the current approach. You simply can't back up 40GB of data on a regular basis. That's why the cloud services have synchronization software — it uploads only new and changed files. It's fine to take a few days the first time you do an upload of all your initial data, but on an ongoing basis, you should do just incremental uploads, i.e., just new and changed files — nothing else is practical from a time perspective.

So as long as you're willing to bite the bullet on downloading/installing software (such as WinRAR), I recommend downloading/installing sync software for a cloud service instead. I think a really good one is Cubby (from the LogMeIn folks). You can give it a try with their free 5GB service to see if you like it, and then get 100GB for just $3.99/month. As a disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I have no affiliation with this company and no financial interest in it whatsoever. I am simply a happy user/customer. Of course, if you really like Google Drive, it can sync, too, and it has a 100GB plan for just $1.99/month.

The bottom line is that without incremental backup, using cloud storage, even with typical high-speed Internet performance, is not practical for 40GB of data. Regards, Joe
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by:John Ellis
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Hello:

I tried Microsoft's OneDrive, and it works perfectly!

Thank you, Joe!

John
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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That's great news, John. I'm glad that works for you. Regards, Joe
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