Backing Up Data Using a Simple Archiver

April 01, 2011 (updated 10 years ago) by Chemtable Software

There are many different backup applications all over the web. However few of us know that an automatic backup system can be built with a usual archiver and the built-in Windows Scheduler. Let’s take a closer look on how this can be done.

First of all, you need to prepare a list of folders you want to backup. It should be in a simple plain text file. So open Windows Notepad, create a new file and fill it with the list of folders, one per each line. To quickly fill the list without mistakes, you can use the following approach. Open all necessary folders in Explorer and for each one copy the text from the Address box. The full path to the folder will be copied to the Clipboard. You only need to paste it to our list then. After you’ve done with the list, save the file in the TXT format in any place.

Then, you should prepare a place to store backups. Ideally this should be some standalone device: external hard drive, USB drive or so. It is strongly not recommended to store your backup on the same hard drive where your source information is. Indeed, this destroys the whole idea of backup, because your backup will be lost along with the information itself. In our example we will use an external hard drive to store backups, in Windows it has the letter G: assigned to it.

Then we need an archiver application, for instance WinRAR. It has a very important feature – it can work from the command line. Using this variant, archiver doesn’t display its window and works in the background, while various command line parameters control how it works. This is exactly what we need.

First, we need to setup launch parameters and test them. To do this, find the WinRAR shortcut on your desktop or in the Start menu, make a copy of it and open Properties of the copy. We want the Object text box. Now it contains the name of the file. But we need something more. Add the following expression to the box: “a –agYYYY-MMM-DD G:\backup @C:\list.txt”. What does it mean? Here is an explanation:

  • a – is a command that directs the archiver to create a new archive;
  • -ag – this parameter adds the current date to the file name;
  • G:\backup – this identifies the place to store the archive;
  • @C:\list.txt – this parameter points to the file containing the list of folders to be zipped.

Now we need to test the command. Double-click the shortcut and see what happens. If everything seems to be ok, go to the next step.

Now we need to run our shortcut automatically. Windows Scheduler suits very well for this. Open it and create a new task. Type a name and a description of the task.

Then create a schedule for the backup.

Finally, as an executable or a script select our newly created shortcut with the Browse button.

Well, you are ready to go. Now the folders of your choice will be backed up to the selected place with specified frequency.