Backup Your Important Data On External Drive – Prevent Data Loss [How To Tutorial]

by Abhishek Bhatnagar on December 15, 2008



One of our readers Yugal asked me a question that had been sub-consciously running around in

my mind for a while.


The question was:

How do I take regular backup of my important data on regular basis?




This question has been running in my mind too for sometime. Just a thought of loss of important data gives me a scary chill. I was thinking of finding a reliable and easy way of regular data backup. I had a clue of how to do it efficiently and fast, but I hadn’t actually tried it. The idea is to create a replica of your important files on an external disk having same files and directory structure. And from time to time, synchronize the two with each other so that the replica becomes same as the latest copies of your files. This serves the purpose of regular data backup.


So I decided to try some folder synchronization utilities. I came across many, I tried two of them : Microsoft SyncToy and SyncBack. I personally found SyncToy easier to use and simple to configure.


In this post I will share with you how you can use Microsoft SyncToy to backup your important data to an external drive on a regular basis.


First of all, you need to download and install SyncToy from here.

Note: You need to have .Net Framework installed to make it work. If that is missing on your computer, download .Net Framework here.

Now Launch the application, the screen looks like the one above.

Click on “Create New Folder Pair” button. It will open a screen like one below:


1. Select the local source folder and remote destination folder. The destination can be a removable drive or a network drive, whichever you prefer .


See the sample below, in this u take the user data backup from my windows vista folder to a removable drive as seen below.


2. Now one more really important part. You need to select the Action from “Synchronize” , “Echo” or “Contribute”. You will find the information of each mode by the side.

In short, use synchronize if you want to keep only the latest files and don’t worry about older versions (Not recommended).

synchronize option

Echo – this mode is safer than synchronize, but does delete files on other side if the file is removed from source (which may cause problem sometime – Not Recommended mode)

Contribute – this mode will copy new files . deletion on one side does not affect other side. (recommended). This mode may consume some more space, but is safest.

contribute echo options



3. After you create a pair, you can see it in screen below, one with the name “document-backup” in my example. Click on change options if you want to exclude certain type of files or any sub-folders.


Here u find the options to select sub-folders. Click and u see another window as below this one.


Here un-check the folders which you don’t need, for example I removed the “Saved Games” folder as I don’t want to take its backup.


Press Ok and click “Run” button. It will first study and check the files and folders on both sides and will then start copying and creating folders as needed.


Copying in progress as seen below:


This is all you need to do at the beginning.


After a week or day or whatever time, when you want to sync the two folders again for backup, you just need to open the SyncToy, select the folder pair, and click “Run”.  On this, it will analyze the changes, and copy the changed files to the destination.


There maybe certain errors for system files, as in my case, you can see the errors by clicking the red link, it will look something like ones below:


One more thing is, when you create a pair, SyncToy will create a file at both the folders, like one shown below, don’t remove this file, as it uses this file for synchronization.


Hope you find this method useful.


The second tool I found, SyncBack also does the same, SyncBack a freeware, you can download SyncBack here. The user interface is bit complicated, but you got some extra options if you need in this tool.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chetan December 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

Backup is really important thing if we have important things or data in our system. Thanks for this tuto.

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