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Old 01. Jun 2016, 08:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Data backup - partial mirror with incremental update option?

Hi,

I'm not sure what (or if) backup freeware is capable of doing what I want, which is:

1) create a usable copy (i.e. can open and modify uncompressed files) of all my folders, subfolders and files that I have on my laptop on an external HD (i.e. mirror copy)
2) delete some of the folders on my laptop version (to free up space) - i.e. the ONLY copies will be on external HD (I will have two)
3) periodically update my external HD to replace modified files and add newly created files from my laptop (i.e. incremental backup)

Is this possible? My laptop will only be a partial mirror of the external HD, so I'm unsure if when updating the external HD the files that are missing from my laptop will be deleted when creating a true mirror - I definitely don't want this!

I've been doing this manually and it is too laborious! Hoping someone will have faced the same issue and can recommend a user friendly freeware.

Thanks
Dean
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Old 03. Jun 2016, 12:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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File synchronization software like FreeFileSync allows you to control the direction of the synchronization.

When you synchronize the first time all your files can be copied to the external HD, e.g. from drive "C:\" to folder "D:\Copy".

You can create additional copies by synchronizing to a different folder each time, e.g. "D:\Copy1", "D:\Copy2", etc.

After you have deleted some of the files on the original drive, the synchronization program will show you that there are files that can be copied back to the original drive. You can prevent that happening by making the synchronization work in one direction only.

In FreeFileSync I normally click on the button with the arrow pointing to the original drive. That toggles synchronization off in that direction. And if I click on the arrow again it will reinstate that synchronization direction.

In your case, you would instead use one of the basic synchronization options which is "Update". It is found at Menu > Actions > Synchronization Settings. "Update" only copies new or modified files so FreeFileSync would never delete any files on your external drive.

When you have the synchronization settings the way you want them, you can save them as a batch job in FreeFileSync. you can then have that batch job run automatically and regularly.

There are additional options that could be useful to you. For example, versioning of files so versions of deleted files are retained:
1. Keep only the most recent versions
2. Keep all versions of old files
3. Save versions at certain intervals

I've said nothing about compression because you can do that through your operating system, e.g. Windows and Linux do drive and folder level compression. Simply copy the original files into a compressed folder and you can use any program to access them because there is no proprietary compression involved.
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Old 03. Jun 2016, 03:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Remah!

Will I still be able to access all the files on the external drive like a plug-and-play external HD (i.e. I will be travelling with the external HD as my copy of the laptop so I can work on files at work)?

Also, can I add files directly into the external HD directory? I ask because I've already deleted a lot of files that were on my laptop, which are currently on a different external HD. That is, I want to recreate the original full compliment of files (i.e. that once existed on my laptop) on the external HD by transferring files from my laptop and another external HD. Maybe this won't work if I need to run an initial synchronize step before "deleting" the files on my laptop.
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Old 03. Jun 2016, 01:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There are a lot more features that I haven't discussed that give you a lot more options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanP View Post
Will I still be able to access all the files on the external drive like a plug-and-play external HD (i.e. I will be travelling with the external HD as my copy of the laptop so I can work on files at work)?
Yes.
Think of synchronization program as fancy copy commands. They don't own or control the files except so they can lock them when copying. They don't do anything without your command to change the contents of files or the permissions to control accessing them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanP View Post
Also, can I add files directly into the external HD directory?
Yes.
As I said above, synchronization is like a fancy copy/move/delete command. You can do whatever you like with the files independent of the synchronization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanP View Post
I ask because I've already deleted a lot of files that were on my laptop, which are currently on a different external HD. That is, I want to recreate the original full complement of files (i.e. that once existed on my laptop) on the external HD by transferring files from my laptop and another external HD. Maybe this won't work if I need to run an initial synchronize step before "deleting" the files on my laptop.
You can update a folders and files on the external HD by copying files from many different sources, e.g. the laptop, an external HD, CD/DVD copies, etc.

You control how you do that. This means that you can copy files from every location you have them into one location. The synchronization programs allows you to decide , whether to compare based on file information (size and date) or actual file contents, what to do with duplicates e.g. whether to change file names so you can have duplicate versions, whether to overwrite with the latest version, etc., etc.
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Old 04. Jun 2016, 03:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks again Remah.

It sounds like it will be a steep learning curve to set up the synchronisation, but once it is done I should be set.

I've downloaded FreeFileSync and will give it a go. Is this the most user-friendly freeware synchronisation program? I'm not especially adept at using new software unless it is intuitive with drop-down menus and buttons :-)
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Old 05. Jun 2016, 04:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It was the easiest to use when I started to using it years ago but there may be easier programs now. I don't do anything fancy with it. I just do manual synchronization of two folders at a time so I didn't need better the filtering and automation options of some other products

Input the from and to folders with the files that you want to compare - I usually browse to find them - then press "Compare" so you can preview which files will be synchronised. Check that all is OK before clicking on the "Synchronise" button.
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Old 08. Jun 2016, 09:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks Remah. I'll have to postpone figuring out how to use the freeware until next week, but I really appreciate your pointing me in the right direction with a suggestion and helpful advice!
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