We began using the MS-DOS version of XCOPY to backup data many moons ago. Though it was crude, it did a pretty good job.

There are many other backup solutions available today, but the "batch file" backup should still be an important part of today's corporate computer operations. We've worked in places that expended tons of money on enterprise backup solutions (Veritas, Backup Exec, etc.), so they thought they were safe. The real problem came in when the backup drive, or the server that the software was installed on, failed. You see, most of this high end software is tied directly to a particular server and/or backup device. Any changes, or failures there can mean big trouble.

Most of these higher end backup solutions put the backup files into a proprietary format only they can interpret. If your backup solution dies, you won't be able to get to those files until the backup solution is rebuilt. Get the picture?

Ideally, backups should be implemented using a "layered" approach. For higher end needs, go ahead and get a network backup solution.  They're quite expensive, but when set up correctly, they work well.  For survivability, be sure to have the backup off-site and/or located in a different place than your main computer room. Should a fire, flood, or other disaster take out your server room, your backups need to survive and be available quickly. You'll need that data to rebuild your company. It's that important!

The next step is to fill in the gap (we call it redundancy) and use a very basic, but powerful program called XXCOPY. This program radically expands the original XCOPY's capabilities and runs as a batch file that can be scheduled using the native Scheduler in Windows. This software really "saved our bacon" on more than a few occasions! We have used it not only for local file server backups, but also remote servers and laptops as well. XXCOPY is licensed by the number of computers it is installed on, so the price is set accordingly. The more copies you need, the less expensive each copy is. Get this great, reasonably priced program at www.xxcopy.com.

Some backup options

"But, I don't have anything to backup with". Funny, people spend money on a nice PC, but don't give a thought to how to protect their data. Think failure. Think disaster. Prepare for the worst and you'll be ready when the unthinkable happens. While you're working on a long term plan, try this:

Home/Small Office Users:

 - Use an external USB/Firewire hard drive. Write a batch file (using XXCOPY) to back up the changed data to the external drive on a regular basis.

- Similar to above, but a  bit more expensive is a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. This device is basically a hard drive in a box with an ethernet/firewire connector. For the price, these are hard to beat.

 - You can also write data to a CD/DVD using a CD-RW and/or DVD/RW drive. This is our least favorite option, but may work for some folks. CD/DVD media will degrade over time, so be aware of that.

 - The last option nearly everyone can employ is to simply use a USB flash memory device. The newer PC's use USB 3.0, so the data transfer is relatively fast compared to the older PC's using USB 2/1.1.  Don't depend on these inexpensive devices as the sole repository for your precious data. Flash drives can, and do, suddenly fail when you need them. They are very sensitive to electrostatic discharges, magnetic fields, and temperature extremes.  They are a great way to do a backup and have it offsite in case of fire/flood.

Final Thought

Above all, whatever solution you're using for backing up your data; be sure to check your backups frequently. Are you really backing up the data you need on a regular basis? Is the data you're backing up easily accessible in an emergency? If a fire, flood, or other disaster took out your computer/computer room, would your backup survive to get you quickly going again? In a  corporate setting; the speed for which operations can resume may mean the difference between a company riding the storm or going under completely. Insurance will pay for new equipment, but you must protect the most valuable business asset you have... your data. "Nuff said.



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