back to article What's the best open source Windows back-up app?

I have a 250GB external hard drive which I use to back-up my Windows XP machine. Sorry, Linux fans, but there are apps I need to run that are Windows only, otherwise I'd switch. Point is, I'm fed up of copying files manually. So, what do you guys recommend as a solid, open source back-up utility that will copy my Documents …


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  1. bluesxman

    For a basic option...

    You could "robocopy".

    It's a command line utility that is somewhat analogous to "rsync".

    Not open source, but it's free (as in beer) and Microsoft written, hope that doesn't put you off too much.

    It's default action is to copy only changed files and with a switch or two you can easily make a mirror copy of your chosen directory structure. It doesn't have any concept of incremental backups per se, but with a bit of scripting one could make it do so without too much effort (I've formed some pseudo-code in my head as I've typed).

  2. Alex 0.1

    Another basic choice

    Another basic choice would be Karen's Replicator - As with robocopy it's not open source but is completely free:

    Similar to robocopy it's basically an rsync style tool that'll generate an exact replica of your source files/folders but does provide a very straightforward UI and will only backup changed files (as with robocopy there's no option for genuine incremental backups though) as well as deletes from backups when source files are deleted, though you can enable/disable that, and uses its' own scheduling to allow your backups to run automatically as long as the program's running.

  3. vdal

    Windows backup

    I use xcopy in a backup.bat file (that must be run from the root of the backup drive) to backup three drives, like this:

    @echo off

    cd \

    echo Backing up drive C

    xcopy c:\*.* \backup\C\ /s /d /r /h /y /c /f /EXCLUDE:c:\exclude.txt

    echo Backing up drive D

    xcopy d:\*.* \backup\D\ /s /d /r /h /y /c /f /EXCLUDE:d:\exclude.txt

    echo Backing up drive E

    xcopy e:\*.* \backup\E\ /s /d /r /h /y /c /f /EXCLUDE:e:\exclude.txt

    pause Any key to exit

    The xcopy line is put together as follows:

    xcopy sourcedir destdir switches /EXCLUDE exclusionsfile, where

    sourcedir = main source directory

    destdir = main backup directory

    switches are as above (/s to copy subdirectories, /d to copy more recent files only, /r and /h to copy read-only and hidden files, /y to confirm automatically, /c to continue on errors (e.g. access denied), and /f to display full source and destination while copying).

    The exclusions file consists of lines, each of which is an expression. If any line matches all or part of a file of directory in the source, that file/directory will be ignored.

    To back up just your Documents directory, you might try:

    xcopy "fullpathtoyourdocuments" \Documents\ /s /d /r /h /y /c /f

    The quotes round fullpathtoyourdocuments are needed if there are any spaces in the path. (I don't have spaces, because I'm backing up from the root directory of each drive, and use the exclusions file to "deselect" unwanted files.)

    It isn't open source, but xcopy comes free with Windows, and it has worked well for me on several machines.

    Hope this may be of assistance.


  4. peter2.0

    A great product although not free


    I have been using ViceVersa Plus for several years. It is not open source and not free, but the $35 I spent on this have been worth every penny as it makes syncing my laptop with the server a no-hassle job that just works every day. There is a free 30-day trial available at

    best rgds, Peter

  5. Newt_Othis
    Thumb Up

    SyncToy 2.0

    I've been using SyncToy 2.0 - another freebie from Microsoft - to backup my info to an external HDD.

    Sure, it's not a full backup of the OS, but I'd rebuild that from stratch if it Borked itself.

    It's kind of a 'nice' frontend to robocopy - takes an age to run the first time, but subsequent runs are fast.

    It lets you decide how aggressive the sync is - whether or not you'd like to replicate source file deletions to the copy.

    Being a straight copy of the files means that it's easy to use and transportable, but it's uncompressed and the data is only as good (or bad) as the last sync. No fancy Time Machine stuff here.

  6. Jim 48
    Thumb Up


    Sounds like syncBack will do all that you require. There's free and paid-for versions, but so far the free has done everything I need

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