No matter how often your friends, family and random geeks on the internet tell you how important backing up is, you may rarely or never do it. I had a very close call the other week when I deleted a partition (a section of my hard drive) with all of my work on it. I luckily had a backup from that morning and could fairly quickly get everything back up and running. If I didn’t have that backup, I would of lost years of work that can’t easily be replaced.
I was lucky, I use to very rarely backup my files, now I do it on a daily basis. A daily backup may be too often for some people. For average computer users, I would suggest backing up weekly, possibly monthly. Or if you very rarely save important information like finances, family photos, videos, work documents, etc, I would manually trigger the backup whenever you dump a large amount of photos to your computer, do your taxes, etc.
Where am I getting with this? Well, I had to do a lot of research on backup software and figure out which one would work the best for the features I needed. The outcome was Comodo Backup. It has a free and paid version, the only difference I believe is the paid version gives you online backup. Below is a list of the features I needed.
- Backup files only in selected drives and folders. I don’t backup my Operating System or Software
- A filter / exclude feature to exclude specific files and folders that may be inside of the folders I am backing up. No need to backup music, software, movies, operating system iso’s, etc.
- The ability to backup using FTP and External Drives. Currently I am backing up to an external drive, but in the future I plan on having a backup server in my house, which FTP will then come in handy.
- Software that is simple, easy to use and from a trusted company. When backing up data, you want to use software from a company that has bug free software. It would suck to have a backup be corrupt since the backup software you used had a flaw in it.
I had some other requirements in the back of my head and Comodo Backup met all of them while some of the other software out there didn’t.
Using Comodo Backup
To get started with Comodo Backup, you need to first install the software to your computer. You can do so by visiting their website backup.comodo.com. The software installs quickly and without hassle.
Once installed, you need to start the program up by clicking on the icon on the Desktop or finding the program in the Start menu. The program provides a ton of different ways to perform backups depending on what you need to backup. For most users, using the “System Backup” option would be the best. For users who want more control and have for specific files in mind that they want to keep backed up, I suggest using the “Backup” tab and to customize your backup method. Once on the last page before you backup you can save all of these options as a “Profile” to quickly perform this same set of backup in the future.
Performing a Custom Backup
- Click on “Backup” to open up the first step to backup your computer and files. The first page will instruct you to pick the files you want to backup. For most users, the “Backup Source” will be “Files and Directories.” If you understand what the other options mean, then you will know if you want those saved or not, else just ignore them.
- On the bottom of the page you will see “Add File..” and “Add Folder..“, using these buttons select all the folders and files you want to backup. Use “Add Folder” instead of “Add File” if you want all the files in a certain folder, or most of the files in a folder. You can always filter out certain files in a future step. For information on what files you should backup, look at the section below called “Important Files.”
- If you are an “Advanced User”, click on “More Options” on the top right of the first step page to customize exactly how the backup will be saved. By default the files are saved in a CBU file which is custom for Comodo Backup.
- On the next step, you will be asked where to save your backup files to. For me I saved it to “My Computer”, which allowed me to save it to an external hard drive. If you want to save it to an external hard drive, go to “My Computer” and keep on clicking the “Up Arrow” until you see the Drive Letters for all of the attached storage devices. Other options include Comodo Cloud, CD/DVD, Network, FTP Server, and E-Mail. If you are using CD or DVD for backups you will probably end up having to use a lot of CD’s and DVD’s and have to keep manually removing and adding the disks to your computer during the backup process which could get annoying. You can now “Backup Now” or go onto an option step to further customize your backup.
- On the final step page, which is option, you can add Macros to the file name, such as the date or version number, compress the backup, add a password to the backed up files, add filters for folders and files, get notifications via e-mail, run tasks before and after the backup and much more. Most users can ignore all of these other than “Filter” which will probably be useful for most users.
- Before clicking “Backup” make sure you click on the “Save” button which looks like a 3.5” Floppy Drive. Saving your backup settings to a profile will make it so you don’t have to go through all of the above steps again and instead just click a single button to backup.
When backing up your data, you need to keep in mind what files are important and what files can be lost or recovered elsewhere. For instance, I have a few albums of music on my computer that I have purchased from various sites. All of these sites allow me to download the album again in the future if I need to. Because of this, I don’t need to backup my music since I can always get it back from the store I bought it from. Now, this may not be the smartest idea just in case the store closes or they end up deleting the album from their store. I don’t care too much about my music though so if I do end up losing it, it’s fine, but I will probably be able to get it back. I also have a ton of operating system installers stored in ISO files. These are large 1GB to 5GB files that I can easily get from Microsoft and various linux websites. I opt to not back up these files.
Important files include things that if you lose, you cannot recover in any other way or will be difficult to recover. I backup all of my work folders, finances, pictures, and my e-mail application data which contains e-mails, contacts, etc.
On the average computer, all of your important data will be stored
C:\Users\Name and in the sub folders of “Documents”, “Music”,
“Desktop”, “Pictures”, “Videos” and others. Make sure to backup those
tax files also if you use software like TurboTax. Those files can
sometimes be in odd locations, so make sure they are being backed up.
It is not that important to filter out files you don’t want to backup unless they take up a ton of space. I don’t care to backup my music, movies and operating system iso’s, along with some work related stuff like third-party libraries. Using the Comodo Backup Filter option, which is found on the last step during a backup process, you can specify folders, files, file types and more that you want to include or exclude.
Excluding File Types
To exclude a certain file type, such as MP3’s, you will add the filter of
*.mp3 and using the drop down set
it to “Exclusion”. This will exclude all files ending with
the asterisk is a wild card.
To exclude all folders “or files in some cases” simply enter the folder
name. It is NOT case sensitive. To exclude your music folder, set the
filter name to
music. Keep in mind if a file is called
without a file extension it will be removed along with all folders that
music no matter where they are.
Excluding Specific Folders
To exclude a folder that is in a very specific location, you can wrap
the folder path in less than and greater than brackets. For instance,
to exclude your music folder that is located at
enter the filter
<c:\users\name\music>. This will exclude that single
music folder while your music folder on your desktop or somewhere else
is still included.