There are many good backup programs, but not everyone uses one. Why not? Disk drives don’t last forever and sooner or later they fail. SyncBackFree is - as the name implies - free and is great for creating a mirror image of your most valuable files on a USB disk or a NAS drive. In the guide, NAS is used and this has the benefit of being able to back up from any computer over Wi-Fi. Even simultaneously from multiple PCs.
SyncBack can be used without installation from a USB flash drive (use this version), so you could simply plug one in to back up a PC. Right-click SyncBack and choose ‘Run as administrator’ to give it permission to back up files not normally accessible, like files in other users’ accounts. There are several ways to restore and the Restore button in the toolbar is the obvious one. Alternatively, you could swap the source and destination folders, or simply use Explorer to open the backup folder and drag files out.
How to create and use SyncBackFree profiles
Anyone that is using a USB drive for backups can skip to step 4, but if you are using a NAS drive, open an Explorer window and select Computer or This PC on the left. Go to the Computer menu and select ‘Map network drive’.
You are prompted for the network folder to map and Z is suggested for the drive letter. Click the Browse button and network devices, such as a NAS drive, are listed. Select the device and the folder to use for backups.
The NAS drive can be referred to by the drive letter Z or its network name, LS-CHL-V2AB0 in this case. If the drive is always on, it can be useful to tick the option to ‘Reconnect at sign-in’. Next time it won’t need mapping.
After downloading and installing SynBackFree, run it. The window is mostly empty, but down at the bottom is a toolbar. Click the New button to create a new profile. A profile is a backup job and any number can be created.
You are prompted to enter a profile name and then select one of three types. These just set certain default options and are not fixed. By configuring profile options you can turn one into another. Choose Backup and click Done.
A new profile automatically opens after creating it, but existing ones can be double clicked. Click the two folder icons next to Source and Destination. Here the C:\Users folder is the source and a folder on the NAS drive is the destination.
Select ‘Decisions – Files’ on the left and you can fine tune the backup rules. For example, you can delete files that only appear in the destination (backup) after a certain number of days, or leave them forever. Here it’s set to 30 days.
Click the Expert option on the left and a long list of configuration settings is displayed. Expand When and select Periodically. There is an option to run the profile (backup) automatically. Manual or automatic backup is your choice.
Select Misc on the left and the program’s priority can be set. Automatic backups are best with a low priority so they run in the background without stealing too much processor power, but manual backups can be normal or higher.
Select Compression and there is an option to compress the backup as a zip file. With sufficient the disk space it is better not to use compression because it makes the backup simpler to access and to restore files should you need them.
There are more options later, but let’s get started. Select the profile and click Run. Errors, shown on the right, can be clicked to view them. Don’t worry, it means a file is in use, usually some unimportant Windows system file.
For more information on working out a backup strategy that works for you, see our feature How to back up a PC or laptop