Of course it is superfluous to go into the importance of data backup. Even the simpliest file copy to an external harddisk, a USB stick or memory card is by far better than no backup at all.
Well, while anyone could send the respective data folders to a USB drive by means of a file manager like Explorer (shown here in my German article), many users aren't familiar with such applications and the ways to mark and copy items. So in various cases it is desirable that a service provider or at least some helpful person with basic computer knowledge installs an appropriate, easy to use backup application of some kind.
Furthermore it may be preferable to automate the process, since backup is most often a repetitive task. And the Explorer isn't always the suitable method to work on a larger set of files or folders, as covered in this article.
Certainly, specialized backup software is available, and operating systems like Windows may supply their own backup functions. However, the different disposability and handling often makes it difficult to set up and automate a solution quickly. And then again it would be sufficient in many cases to implement the afore-mentioned data copying through simple command files. As a further advantage, such files are in text form and thus can be easily adapted to the respective requirements.
Data Copying Script
For such purposes, I developed the script BAKCOPY (bakcopy.vbs). I chose WSH/VBS because it is fairly capable, and it is available on most of all Windows versions (even outdated ones). The script is intended as a small handy tool for personal use as well as for servicing. Its design follows the principle of being as universal as possible. So to avoid the necessity of editing the script itself just for backup adjustment, it uses a brief textual configuration file (by default bakcopy.ini). The parameters of this INI-file are described in bakcopy.txt.
To use the script straightway, the applied INI-file will require only a bit of editing by at least entering an appropriate data directory in the [folder] section. While the easiest way to configure user data backup may be to copy the %USERPROFILE% folder tree, it's doubtful to recommend that — even though it may appear as an example. There's such a lot of files in there, you don't really want to save. (And observing the undesired backup of old browser caches can drive you nuts.)
Furthermore the parameter defaultdrive has to be checked or modified. It may be best practice to connect the intented backup device and then enter that drive letter.
Alas, WSH/VBS lacks the possibility to call Windows API functions. So to support reading INI-files via script I wrote VTOOL which is a COM module providing some objects (see description). These also include a list box window that the script employs to give the user the opportunity of destination drive selection.
Apart from the installation or registration this module should do its job without further ado. On the other hand it isn't very difficult to prepare a VTOOL-less script version. For that, all necessary INI-parameters have to be replaced with command arguments and/or inline parameters. The display of windows (drive selection list and a progress bar) is optional anyway.
Since the script comes as open source, it can just as well be treated as a template and easily modified to meet specific needs. If you make any interesting changes, you can send me this version or a description. Also suggestions for improvement are welcome.
Although BAKCOPY is used — together with VTOOL — in practice, neither the suitability nor the risk-free use can be assured in any way for legal reasons. Any usage is at your own responsibility!
In addition, the script depends on several system components and their functionality. And please note that the reliability — as generally with backup copying — is also determined by a correct and careful approach. Use a suitable storage medium of good quality. It is recommended to regularly check the condition of the medium as well as the backup copies.
The file bakcopy.zip contains the script (bakcopy.vbs), the above-mentioned description (bakcopy.txt), and a sample INI-file (bakcopy.ini). The file pretzel.zip contains a supplementary sample script.
For installation extract bakcopy.zip —and optionally pretzel.zip— to a folder of your choice. The same applies to VTOOL (see there).
The following example (pseudo) statements show all necessary steps.
cd \Downloads unzip bakcopy.zip -d \Tools unzip pretzel.zip -d \Tools unzip vtool.zip -d \Tools cd \Tools vtool.exe /regserver notepad bakcopy.ini
Note that the VTOOL registration will require administration rights.
For more informations see the accompanying documentation for BAKCOPY and VTOOL.