How should I backup data?

Sunday 12 October 2003This is over 19 years old. Be careful.

I need to get into a regular habit of backing up data. I have a CD burner, and it came with Roxio software for burning CDs. There doesn’t seem to be a straightforward way to tell it, “backup these directories” over and over again. My last computer had Nero and Retrospect software for the burner, but they won’t work with the new burner (they were Yamaha OEM, so they will only work with the Yamaha burner).

Does anyone have any recommendations? What’s a straightforward way to have my data files regularly burned to CD? I don’t mind if it is geeky, I don’t even mind if I have to write some code. I just want to know that the data is burned on the CD, and that I’ll be able to read it later. Does anyone have some Python code to burn stuff to CD?


We zip everything we need into a zip file first, then use packet writing software (like DirectCD, InCD, HP's DLA, etc.) to copy the file over to a CD-RW. I have a simple JavaScript script that runs using Windows Script Host that drives the whole thing. A batch file should work just as well -- we used to use a batch file, and I forget at the moment why we switched to using WSH.
A very simple solution that works very well:
Use the Briefcase in Windows.
It is a folder with items that you can sync.
Its main purpose is to help you sync files with apps between your PC and your Laptop but it works just right in my case.
Put all folders that you want backed up in a Briefcase folder.
Then once you want to backup your data just click Sync from the folder's context menu. And in few seconds (or a bit more) you have a folder that you can put on a CD with all the recent data.
Since you're leaving the cd in there, I'm guessing you're not worried about off-site backups. In that case:

If you're worried about a system crash, just buy a second hard drive and mirror.

If you're worried about versioning, just script a selective backup to another volume.

I tried the CD-burner backup thing, and it's just too much of a hassle to bother.
I'd easily recommend you take a look at SecondCopy (, $29.95). It's interface is clean and easy and it can create standard ZIP files.
Jonathan Richardson 1:57 PM on 29 Oct 2003
I have decided that there is no excellent solution to this problem. If you want to backup onto CD's you have to be very patient. The fastest way to backup is to an (preferably external) HD, but your backup is not "archival quality." On my old Mac (5 years ago) I had a tape drive and Retrospect and I liked it! The tape was much larger than the drive, that was the key. Retrospect took a bit of learning, then worked very well for years. I even found a few files by searching through old backups. I could do a system restore and get _everything_ back, system and all.

Arrg. Maybe one should print everything out and paper file it!

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