|USB Flash Drive|
I periodically get asked how I do my backups on my Microsoft Windows 10 based system1. Besides doing a monthly backup of my computer to an externally connected hard drive I also do a periodic backup of only my genealogy information to a USB memory stick/thumb drive/flash drive. Today's post will cover just how I do that copying to the USB flash drive.
Now I could easily just copy and paste the contents of my genealogy folder to the flash drive. I actually used to do that when I only had a small amount of information to copy. However, I now have over 57 GB2 of various images, digitized books, and other related files in my genealogy folder. Some of that information I don't need or want to have backed up since it can be very easily recreated from the original sources3. That still leaves about 49 GB of information to be backed up. If I manually copied all the files I want backed up it would take several hours. Instead I use a free program called SyncBackFree by 2BrightSparks to handle my backups to the USB flash drive.
Why SyncBackFree? First of all, it is free. When on a tight budget, free is often a good thing. Secondly, it doesn't use some fancy proprietary format for storing the backup in. The files on my USB flash drive can be accessed from any modern Windows (maybe even Mac) computer just like any other file. This is a great benefit when it comes to recovering the files after a disaster since all I have to do is copy the genealogy folder on my USB flash drive to my computer's hard disk.
|Screen capture of SyncBackFree profiles|
As you can see I have two profiles created to do my backups. I have two profiles since I have two USB flash drives that I use to hold the backups and I rotate between the drives. Each USB flash drive has been assigned a specific drive letter4. That way I have two different backups available that were taken at different times.
So what does one of these profiles look like?
|Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile for creating a mirror backup|
Mirroring? What the heck is that?
In a backup, you often have a copy of all the files that you ever had starting from a specific point in time. In a mirror, it is only what exists when you make the copy. For the purposes of my genealogy only backup to the USB flash drive, I just want a snapshot of what I have now. Since I have two USB flash drives that I rotate through, I do have one older copy I can easily access if need be.
I have also only specific sub-folders selected when it does the mirror copy of my genealogy folder. These are often folders that don't change very often or can be recreated from other sources. These excluded folders are backed up when I do my full backup of my computer each month.
|Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile File & Folder Selection screen|
With how I've defined my profile in SyncBackFree it usually only takes minutes to make a mirror copy of my genealogy folder since only changes are sent to the USB flash drive.
I don't have this kind of backup running automatically. However, anytime I make a large number of changes or additions to my master database I make a backup of my genealogy directory. Sometimes I make a copy of my genealogy folder just because I haven't run a backup for several days. For me, it is as simple as connecting the USB flash drive to my computer, checking to see which drive letter it is, selecting the correct profile, and clicking Run. SyncBackFree will even tell me it there were problems doing the backup.
Remember, this isn't the only way to backup your information. Find the tools and methods that work for you. Just make sure that you do your backups on a regular basis!
1. Sorry Mac users, I don't have a solution for you. I've been a Windows user for way too many years.
2. Yes, 57 gigabytes of information.
3. My Family Tree Maker sub-folder is my backup of my Ancestry data. I don't use Family Tree Maker to enter information into my tree since I use Legacy Family Tree as my master database but I want to backup the information I have put onto my Ancestry cousin-bait tree.
4. See https://www.howtogeek.com/96298/assign-a-static-drive-letter-to-a-usb-drive-in-windows-7/ for how to do this.