As we’ve already noted, you can create a complete file backup using the drag-and-drop approach without necessarily using any backup software per se. But by taking this approach, you’ll quickly push the limits on what’s feasible if you want to include only new or changed files in your second backup file set. That’s probably why so many makers of external hard disks routinely include backup software with their products, knowing how likely it is that they’ll be put to good use.
On the Samsung Story Station, the bundled backup program is called “Samsung AutoBackup.” This application is designed for simplicity, which makes its backup process both easy and efficient. In addition to its ability to make a manual backup at any time, Samsung AutoBackup also provides a backup scheduling tool. This software supports access to different versions of the same files, along with a file-comparison tool to help you pick exactly the version you might want or need.
It’s also possible to password-protect backup file sets so that users without a password cannot access their contents. When restoring a backup file set, users can even specify file filters or directory paths so that only specific subsets of the backup file set will be affected. Thus, users can easily restore only music or document files if they choose.
The Built-in Windows Backup Utility
Just because there is backup software bundled with an external hard disk doesn’t mean there are not other alternatives. Most Windows Vista versions include a built-in backup program, although it’s not available in Windows Vista Starter and is only offered in limited form with Windows Vista Home Basic editions.
Still, Windows Vista’s built-in backup is easy to use and bypasses user selection of directory paths for specific backup file sets. Instead, users choose what kinds of files they want to back up, such as videos or pictures. The backup file set may be stored on a network drive, on an external hard disk, or even burned to CDs or DVDs. The software also allows entire file sets, folders, or individual files to be restored upon demand.
A Powerful Tool: Robocopy
Robocopy is another backup program that offers excellent backup functionality. The software is part of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools (which can be downloaded for free) and works with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Robocopy is also included as a command-line tool with Windows Vista.
Among Robocopy’s many capabilities, it can create incremental backups on external hard disks or network drives. To make working with its sometimes cryptic command-line syntax easier, Microsoft offers a graphical interface for this tool called the Robocopy GUI. It uses .NET Framework 2.0 to offer users a multi-tabbed control center to run many Robocopy commands, such as Path, Copy Options, Drive Mapping, or Filters. Also, you can download other free programs (such as RoboGUI), which add functionality that is not available with the Microsoft GUI.