The software I’ll be using is called Personal Backup; a free program with tons of features like scheduling and synchronization. It’s easy to set up, even easier to run, and it’s a program I use almost daily. Let’s get started! The first thing you’ll need is something to backup data on. This can be anything, a USB stick, an external SSD, or a portable hard drive. I recommend the Seagate Expansion 1TB, which you can see my review and benchmarks for by clicking the card in the top right of this video. If you’re on a tighter budget, the SanDisk Ultra 64GB is only $16.

To get started, you’ll need to download personal Backup. Go to the download page (linked to in the description) and download the “Windows setup” installer for either the 64-bit or 32-bit version. If you don’t know whether your operating system is 32 or 64-bit, you can find out by going to the control panel and clicking “System” near the bottom. There it’ll tell you whether you’re a running 32-bit or 64-bit copy of Windows. It installs like any other program, so just follow the prompts. After installing, Personal Backup will open the “Backup Wizard” window. Click “Start Wizard” to begin. First, you’ll set the destination for where to backup your data. Click “Select Destination Directory” and choose a destination.

This will be where the files are backed up; mine is just a folder named “Backups” on my external drive. Click “OK” once you’ve selected the backup location, then click “Next”. This is where you choose which files and folders you want to backup. You can click “My Documents” to quickly add your documents folder to the backup task, and to add other folders, click “Other Directory”, and select the folder you want to backup. Then click “OK”. You can add as many folders as you need; I have it set to backup my documents, pictures, videos, music, and desktop, but you can simply select whichever folders you want to be backed up. Once you’ve picked every folder you want to be backed up, click “Next”.

This is where you can set the program to directly copy files and folders, rather than compress them. In the “File Processing” group, select “Copy without compression”. This means your files and folders will be copied directly to the drive, which you can then navigate directly in windows explorer. If you’re limited on space, or you prefer the traditional backup method, leave it as “Compress as zipping”. Once you’ve decided, click “Next”. This page allows you to schedule backups to automatically occur at certain times (like, daily at 6 PM), under certain conditions (for example at logoff), or at specific times and conditions (for example, the first logoff on Friday).

Schedule Backups

Choose how you want to schedule backups, if you want them scheduled at all, then click “Done”. You’ll be prompted to save your backup settings file; I just save mine on the desktop. If you regularly rename or reorganize files and folders like me, you probably don’t like dealing with a bunch of different folders named “Christmas Pictures”, “Christmas 2016”, and “12_25_2016” all with the same pictures, just because you renamed the folder between backups.

By choosing to synchronize, Personal Backup will delete files and folders on your backup drive which are no longer on the original drive. What this means is if you create a folder named “Finances”, backup, and then rename the folder to “Personal Finances” and back again, the program will delete the backup folder “Finances” and replace it with “Personal Finances”. This effectively keeps your files and folders synchronized between your main drive and your backup drive so they’re exact mirrors of each other.

You can turn this feature on by going to the “Other options” tab and selecting “Selected files, retain other” in the drop-down menu below “Synchronize backup directory”. Make sure you check “Use Recycle Bin”! This way, if you accidentally delete a folder on your main drive and then run a backup, that folder will be moved to the recycle bin where you can restore it, rather than immediately have deleted. If you don’t need this functionality, you can just leave the default settings.

Initiate A Backup

To initiate a backup, just click “Start backup” and it will copy your files to the drive you selected. You can set it to shut down, logoff, standby, or hibernate when the backup is complete, or you can leave it at “None” and it will simply notify you when the backup is finished. Once the backup is complete, click “Done”, close the program, and that’s it! Your files are backed up and you can easily access them by simply going to the drive where they’re stored, and opening up your backups folder. Quick note: by default, Personal Backup copies the full directory tree, so, inside the backup’s folder on your external drive, you’ll probably have a folder named “LwC” or something similar.

This is just the top-level, representing the “C” drive on your computer. Inside this folder, you’ll find all your backed up files and folders. If you didn’t choose automatic backups, you can manually run one whenever you like by navigating to wherever you saved the Personal Backup settings file and double-clicking it. Personal Backup will automatically open and you’ll be given 3 options: Cancel, Edit task, and Start backup. Clicking “Start backup” will run the program with no further input. If you’d like to add a shortcut to your desktop, right-click the settings file, click “Send to”, then “Desktop”. If you want a shortcut in your start menu or on the taskbar, simply drag the settings file into your start menu or taskbar, like this. Windows will automatically create a shortcut.