Camen Design Forum

Backup on Windows utterly sucks and has for decades; can you help?

append delete Kroc

Hi all, I'm hoping you can provide some direction.

I'm trying to find a simple, preferably scripted method of backing up stuff to a network share.

A solution is not simple. Windows is a piece of crap when it comes to backup, we all know that. Here are the things I've tried:


Does not use Volume Shadow, so cannot backup any files in use

:: RSync, rdiff-backup &c.

There's no "server", it's a network share hosted on a Time Capsule so I can't run server software for the RSync protocol and whatnot.

:: XXClone

Free version doesn't offer incremental backup, cannot use solutions that won't skip up-to-date files since this is a network share.


I have different needs for the different PCs, so I may need more than one solution. For my PC, running a batch script when I want is fine by me, but for my wife's PC, I may want to have something more automated, though I obviously wish to avoid heavy and bloated backup software that brings the machine to a crawl. I may investigate AutoVer for this purpose.

(all this is aside that I use SpiderOak for online backup, there's not enough space there for everything though which is why I need the local backup for the bulky, less-important things)

Can I ask what you peeps are doing backup wise, and if you've any suggestions for backing up to a network share in a sane way?

Kroc added on

:: SyncToy

Good, but cannot exclude directories

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append delete #1. Jose Pedro Arvela

If you already have a batch script, you can set it to run periodically. That way it can be automated.

I have no idea if it is possible, but if you compare the modified date of the file on the client and on the server you can probably know if it is appropriate to backup or not. At worst, there's probably some API to get the modified date from Windows and you can save a text log on the server of the last time a certain file was modified.

append delete #2. Jose Pedro Arvela

A simple program could be made actually (in C or Python or whatever you find more confortable). You set up server credentials, you save a files.txt and/or settings.txt in it with a white/blacklist of files and folders and a list of the files on the server and their last modified date.

Then you make a program that connects to the given server, checks the files.txt and settings.txt for what it should do and starts recursivelly comparing the given list to the files on the folder it is supposed to save. If the modified date is more recent than the one on the server (and any other conditions you want to add here), it uploads the file.

Another way could be to make your whole set of folders to backup a giant cvs/svn/git mirror, with white and blacklisted files. Some even more basic automated scripts then could be used to make cvs commit, or whatever system you use. As cvs/svn/git make sure themselves to keep track of changes, you'll be sure that any modified file will surelly be uploaded, but not modified ones wont.

append delete #3. jamesmiller5

I usually use Dropbox since it works on both Linux and Windows.

I'm not sure how your network is setup as I've never used Time Capsule but can you use tar's only modified files flag?

append delete #4. Johann

I'm not sure if it can exclude directories, but have a look at this:

You mostly use the GUI to create scripts that can be run once, or as a continous background job. And that it does very well and very fast.

append delete #5. Kroc

Thanks for the suggestion Johann, that looks very good!
Interesting that this thread has popped back up, I can post the solution I've come up with thus far:

Using "vscsc"[1] and "dosdev"[2] it's possible to create a volume shadow copy from a batch script and mount it as a drive letter. From there, it's just a simple ROBOCOPY, thusly:

% Batch
REM Change directory to where this script is located
CD /d "%~dp0"

IF "%1" == "" (
	REM Create the volume shadow and re-run this script passing the volume identifier
	vscsc -exec="%~0" C:

) ELSE (
	REM Mount the network drive. This assumes the password is the same as your logon account, if not use:
	REM NET USE <drive> <path> /PERSISTENT:NO /USER:<name> <password>
	REM Mount the volume shadow as a drive letter
	dosdev B: %1
	ROBOCOPY "B:\Users" "T:\Users" /MIR /XJ /R:0 /W:0 /NC /NDL /XF "Desktop.ini" "Thumbs.db"
	REM Dismount the volume shadow drive, when this script ends, vscsc will automatically remove the shadow.
	REM NOTE: if you cancel the script whilst running, the shadow might be left behind, run `vscsc -da` to clean up
	dosdev /D B:
	REM Dismount the network drive


append delete #6. oldtimes

FYI: Basic rsync does not necessary need any server/service. You can use is also to locally visible file systems when mirroring data between directories.

append delete #7. Kroc

@oldtimes, you're right -- I was first looking for shadow+rsync, which doesn't exist on Windows as a single object without an rsync server. However, now that I've found how to create a volume shadow from batch, I could easily change robocopy to rsync.

append delete #8. Adam

bvckup is pretty's what I use and is dead simple.

append delete #9. rudriver

Here it is in 2016 and windows backup still SUCKS big time

append delete #10. Kroc

It's kind of been fine since Windows 7. Whilst File History in 8 and 10 are more automated, they don't do a system image. I'm using SpiderOak across my machines and now have a RAID0 on my main desktop.

append delete #11. Dyon

Why did MS actually bundle the backup utility ? It would be better that it didn't exist at all.

On my Win7 workstation I have a dedicated 2Tb disk to backup my 120Gb SSD windows OS + 2nd SSD disk of 120Gb.
Since the free space of 2Tb of the backupdisk is added to the total backupsize, it thinks it should backup 2.2Tb of data to the 2Tb disk. It actually tells me in the 'manage space' window that it counts the 2Tb free disk space. Therefore, it is unable to backup this data to the disk.This would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

Still need a descent backup/restore utility for windows...

append delete #12. sponge

Look at what enterprise use, and start your search there. For Windows endpoint, there's just one solution worth mentioning, Veeam Endpoint Backup, and the best part is that it's completely free.

I use Veeam Backup and Replication at work, after trying almost every possible backup solution out there. Bonus point for integration of free endpoint backup with enterprise backend.

#13. test123test123

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