I had posted more than once about sync and backup software I use (or maybe not). It kinda grew on me that setting up good sync routine is more than software. It is a process that is even more important to get right, than choice of specific software title.
So I decided to pile up everything I know on topic.
Consolidate and downsize data
There are two components of stuff to sync – folders and files.
Folders define convenience of setup and changes down the road. The lower is amount of root folders the less tasks it will take. The shorter path to root folders the easier it will be to use and change.
For best results – use folders in drive root with definitive names and clear sub-folder structure.
Files define speed of process. In sync process every single file must be checked by some criteria on both sides. Large amount of small files is much slower to process than single large file.
For best results – package rarely needed files in archives.
Tools of use:
- file managers (Free Commander, Q-Dir, Snowbird);
- disk space analyzers (SpaceSniffer, WinDirStat);
- file archivers (7-Zip).
Choose and explore software
All sync and backup software does more or less same thing by definition. You need to pick tools that are flexible, reliable and easy to use. At the very least they must have:
- flexible routine settings, fixed routines that developers designed may not fit your needs;
- scheduling or scripting options, you don’t want to bother with manual sync all the time;
- options to skip folders and files by mask, you don’t need to waste time on temporary files;
- reputation of being robust and reliable, some tools manage to screw up simplest tasks.
Explore the specifics to set up fitting routine. It is easiest to distribute for one point to many and hardest to make multiply points exchange data.
For best result – choose your tools according to what you need done.
Separate backup and sync
While they often get mixed backup and sync are two very different things.
- Purpose of sync is to create functional mirror of data.
- Purpose of backup is to create clean copy of data for emergencies.
Never use sync as your only backup option. Clearly separate what files are throwaways and what are important to maintain backups of.
For best results – first backup, then sync backups with rest of files to multiply locations.
Get rid of manual work
The greatest enemy of good sync routine is manual work. Computers are great at precise and boring stuff you will hate to do every day. Make them do it.
- automate file download with Ketarin;
- schedule backup with CobianBackup;
- script SyncExp with AutoIt to run every time you plug in flash drive or turn on notebook;
- integrate Dropbox in folder structure so most important things are uploaded and revisioned in the cloud.
You will still need to check periodically if everything works fine (especially backups) but it will all click with each other every day to keep your data prepared wherever and for whatever.
At the dawn of computing single storage device was a luxury. Now we use daily multiply pieces of hardware that all deals with our data in one form or another. Maintaining sync and backup routines is best way to ensure that your data is always up to date, accessible and safe.
Have favorite sync/backup trick, advice or app? Share it in the comments!