Simple Data Redundancy For Your Photos

WD_ExHDD I’ve been harping a lot lately about backing up your data and your photos.  If you’re like me and work mostly on a laptop, you can’t afford not to back up your computer.  This is because we typically use our laptops to connect to the web, read e-mail, download, etc.  This makes us vulnerable to hackers, viruses, and more.  Having one copy of your backup is good, but two copies ensures that your data is very safe.

Most of us can’t afford to drop $1,000.00 on a nice system like the Drobo, which uses multiple hard drives and constantly monitors the health and status of each drive and moves your data to the other drives in case of a drive failure.  That said, you can pick up a 500GB external hard drive for about $120.00 these days.  Buy two of those and you are more than on track for data redundancy.  But that still leaves one problem: redundancy means having an exact copy of the data on both drives. 

You could manually copy the data over using copy and paste, but what a daunting task and a waste of time!  Mac’s use a little app called Automator which will allow you to set up just that.  For those of us using Windows XP and Vista, it’s a little more involved but still very simple.  All you have to do is create a simple batch file to do the work and you can schedule it to run automatically or you can simply double-click the file and run it yourself.  I know what your thinking… “There’s no way I can do this!”  Actually, yes you can!

Windows uses a Command Line interface to run a little program called Robocopy.  What Robocopy does is automatically copy and move data as the user specifies from a source to a destination.  Here is a sample of the code I use to move my data once it is backed up:

robocopy “f:\Backups” “g:\Backups” /E /MIR

The way that string breaks down is like this: [command] [destination folder/directory] [arguments].  The argument /E tells Robocopy to copy all subdirectories, including empty ones.  The /MIR argument tells Robocopy to make the destination exactly the same as the source and only moves new or newly modified files from the source to the destination.  This means that my computer isn’t moving ALL of my data every time I run it.  It only moves new data or data that has been modified and is newer than the data that’s already in the destination folder.  Pretty cool eh?

Now, to create batch file all you need to do is open NotePad and use a string similar to the one above and when you save you click File > Save As > [type whatever filename you want] > Change file type to “All Files” > add a .bat extension to the end of your filename > click Save and you’re done!  Now you can double-click it to run it or you can use the Task Scheduler in Windows to have it run automatically.  I use the backup program Acronis True Image 11 Home which allows me to run the batch file once my backup is done.  So once my backup is complete, it automatically mirrors my data on both of my external hard drives.  Easy enough!

If you use a setup similar to this, you are well on your way to maintaining the integrity of your data and will be able to sleep at night knowing your photos are safe and sound. 

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