Running Incremental Backups in Windows XP

It has been a while since I wrote about the critical function of backing us so I figure I had better get to it.
In a previous post I wrote how to backup all of your files, this time I want to cover how to back up just some of your files, the ones you have recently changed.

Suppose you want to run a full backup of a group of files at the beginning of a week, and then back up only the files that have changed on the remaining days of the week. To do so, you have the choice of Incremental or Differential backups.

There are also several types of backup routines available. The most common are normal, copy, differential, incremental, and daily.

  1. A normal backup backs up each file and turns a setting (also called a switch) on the file to mark it as backed up.
    Think of a switch as a light switch, when a file is created the switch is in the off position. When the file is backed up the light (file in our case) is turned on. When you edit the file and save it the switch is set back to the off position just like when you leave the room and turn off the light. When a file or group of files are copied they are duplicated elsewhere but the setting (switch) is not changed.
  2. An incremental backup only backs up the files that have been added or changed since the last backup and turns the switch on. It does this by looking for switches that are off.
  3. A differential backup copies only the files that have been added or changed since the last backup but leaves the switch off.
  4. The daily backup only backs up files that were created or modified that day. Incremental backups will be discussed in more depth later on.

Now that we have that covered, let’s get started.

First be sure that you have already created a full backup, just like we discussed in “Backing up Your Data” in a previous article.

Open the Backup program by clicking on the “Start” button and then “All Programs”.

Now you will need to select the “Accessories” folder and then “System Tools” folder then on “Backup” in that folder.

With the new window open make sure “Always start in wizard mode” is not checked. Select “Next” to continue.

Under “Backup / Restore” and “What do you want to do”, you will want to select the “Backup files and settings” button then select “Next”.

This next window is where you are presented with several choices. Make sure “Let me choose what to back up” is selected then select “Next” to continue.

Here is where we get to select what files and or folders to backup.

First of all click the check box next to “My Documents”.

Now click the “+” (plus) symbol next to “My Computer” to expand it, click the “+” next to “Local Disk C:” and once again next to “Documents and Settings” (you may need to use the left/right slide bar to see these folders).
Now look for your user name (there might be several names or only one). Click on the “+” by it.
Now you want to place a check mark in the box next to “Favorites” and “Desktop”.

Finally we want to save your e-mail. To figure out how to do this, please refer back to my previous article.

After selecting “Next” you should be at a window labeled “Backup Type Destination and Name”, this is where you select where you will be backing up to.

You have several choices where to back up based on your particular computer and network, if you have a thumb drive (also called a flash drive or USB pen drive) you can backup to it, HOWEVER I do not recommend that you do so a backup should be a permanent storage. If you have an external hard drive or networked computer you can backup to it. If you have a DVD or CD burner you can format a CD-RW or DVD-RW and use it, I will leave that up to you.

Regardless, select the “Browse” button and when asked to put a floppy in press “Cancel”.

You will be brought to a “Save As / Save In” page, select your destination (the CD-RW, Zip et al). Change the name of the backup (located at the bottom of this page) to “IncrementalBackup” so you know the type. Finally click on the “Save” button.

You will be brought back to the backup window you were at previously, click “Next” to continue.

On this page select the “Advanced” button and you will be taken to the “Type of Backup” window.

Make sure to use a different media (external drive, tape or Zip) for each backup. If you run a Full backup on Monday and you want to run Incremental on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, then I believe you should use 4 different disks or tapes, one for each backup. You can backup to the same drive if you want to, I just don’t recommend it.

From the drop down menu select “Incremental” and then click on the “Next” button.

Next you will be taken to the verification window. I strongly suggest that you select “Verify Backup” and then select “Next” to continue.

The next window allows you to append to the tail end of an existing backup or replace the current backup, I suggest that you choose to replace.

Remember that the “Incremental” mode only backs up files that were created or changed since the last backup.
Select “Next” to continue.

You will be taken to the “When to Back Up” window. Since we are scheduling this backup to reoccur, select “Later”.

You should be able to assign a “job name”, again I would use “IncrementalBackup” but that is up to you.

Now you will need to select the “Set Schedule” button on this window. This will bring up a new window. Under the “Schedule Task” section you select how often, for our example choose “weekly”.

Next you will need to select the “Start time”, I would suggest this occur when you are not working so choose an appropriate time such as 11 pm. This is done by highlighting the numbers and then selecting the up or down arrows accordingly, the same occurs with the “AM/PM” choices.

Below that is the “Schedule Task Weekly” area where you can to skip weeks or to run the backup weekly (which we will choose) and then on what days to run the backup. Let’s select “Mon” and “Wed” since we run already run a full backup on Friday, you do run another backup already right? Select “OK” to continue.

A password prompt should appear, enter your logon password. Enter it (your password) two times. If you don’t have one, look for my article on creating one and how to automatically logon without entering it every time.

Select “OK” to continue.

You will be back at the “When to backup” window, select “Next” to continue. You will be asked for your password again, don’t freak out, just enter it in the two boxes provided and select “OK”.

This is the last window, select “Finish” and you are complete, ok, maybe you are not complete but you have just created an incremental scheduled backup and that should help you fill more complete.

Just a quick reminder, if you need to make a full restore of all the items backed up, both the incremental and full backups are required.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week.

3 thoughts on “Running Incremental Backups in Windows XP

  1. Pingback: XP Passwords and more

  2. First post on this topic that I have seen that clearly explains how & why. Many thanks, this is wonderfully written and explained. If Microsoft provided support one-tenth as clear as this, it would be a miracle.

  3. Sad that there was not more information out there about this. In particular tips and tricks for just restoring a folder to yesterday or what the utility did when you select multiple incremental backups for restore. (Does the older or new files take precedence?) XP was sort of a swiss army knife, but so much broken and undocumented software in with the good.

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