Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Making backups with the free RoboCopy

[This was originally posted at http://timstall.dotnetdevelopersjournal.com/making_backups_with_the_free_robocopy.htm]

I had gotten an external harddrive to backup my laptop, but now I needed a way to copy only changed files. For example, if I have 5GB of files to backup, but perhaps only 10-100MB of new files each time I do the backup, for performance reasons I only want to copy the new stuff. Initially I thought "oh well, I'll just write my own program to do this", but then I realize that this is such a common task that there has to be free stuff out there (principle: don't reinvent the wheel). Someone pointed me to Robocopy, which you can download for free, along with 50+ other tools, as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.

Robocopy, for "Robust File Copy Utility ", is a command line tool for copying files from one location to another. It has all the switched that you'd expect: only copy changed files, ignore hidden files, number of times to retry copy a file if there are errors (such as a process locks the file and you can't copy it). It's a convenient thing. I created a batch script to do my master backup:

set USBdrive="E:\Tim_Main"
rem "C:\Ameripay" "%USBdrive%Tim_Main\Ameripay"

robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Ameripay" "%USBdrive%\Ameripay"
robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Development" "%USBdrive%\Development"
robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Documents and Settings" "%USBdrive%\Documents and Settings"
robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Inetpub" "%USBdrive%\Inetpub"
robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Learning" "%USBdrive%\Learning"
robocopy /S /R:2 /W:10 /XA:H "C:\Projects" "%USBdrive%\Projects"



I stored the target drive as an environmental variable, and then used the following options:

/SCopy Subdirectories, but not empty ones.
/R:2Number of Retries on failed copies: default 1 million.
/W:10Wait time between retries: default is 30 seconds.
/XA:HDon't copy hidden files

There's tons of other switches to configure.

It's quick, yet extremely helpful if your main hard drive crashes.

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