Creating a Decentralised Backup System for Free

This article will guide you through the process of setting up a data backup system in your home or office allowing each of your windows computers to backup to each other.

Step 1 - First you need to create a directory that all computers will copy their backups to

Select a computer to be left on overnight on Thursday. Create a directory in the ‘my documents’ directory of this computer called ‘office_backups’. In this directory create a sub directory for each computer in the office you want to backup. Once you’ve done this go back to the ‘my documents’ directory, right click on the ‘office_backups’ directory and click ‘sharing’. Tick the box to say this directory should be shared and tick the box to say other computers should be able to alter the files in this directory.

Step 2 - Next you need to map this shared directory as a drive on all of the office computers

On each computer do the following:

  1. Open up my computer
  2. Go to Tools menu then click ‘map network drive’
  3. Select the same drive letter on each computer
  4. Click the browse button
  5. In the next form select My Network Places->Entire Network->Microsoft Windows Network->Workgroup->{name of computer your backing up to}->office_backups->{name of folder you made to backup this computer to}
  6. Click OK
  7. Make sure the box that says ‘reconnect at login’ is ticked and click the finish button

Step 3 - Next you need to install and configure backup easy on every computer

On each computer do the following:

Unzip the file attached to this page and run setup.exe. Complete the installation procedure and using the default configuration then run Backup Easy. When it asks you whether you want to add this program to startup select yes. Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the browse button beneath the text box labelled target and select the drive you mapped in the last section. Should just be L. Then Click Select.
  2. Click the Add button and select a directory on your hard drive you want to backup then click Select. Try to pick specific directories and not just the whole hard drive as this would slow the whole backup process down a lot
  3. Repeat step 2 for every directory on your hard drive you want to backup.
  4. Click the save button
  5. Click the settings tab
  6. Tick the box labelled Thursday.
  7. Tick the three boxes labelled automatic backup, backup modified files only and include fill path.
  8. Select staggered times for each computer, start with 7pm on the first computer an move the time back a couple of hours for each computer. If you go past midnight tick Friday instead of Thursday in step 6.
  9. Click on the save button.
  10. Click on the file tab to go back to the main screen and click hide. The program will now remain open but be minimized to the system tray.

Once you have done this on every computer what should happen is that at 7pm on Thursday each computer will in turn backup all of the directories you have selected to the computer you created the shared directory on.

Step 4 - Next we are going to setup the main computer to backup its backup directory to another computer on Friday to complete the process

  1. Pick a second computer to be left on overnight on Friday.
  2. Create a directory in ‘my documents’ called ‘secondary_backup’.
  3. Share it in the same way shared the directory at the beginning of this email.
  4. Then go to the computer that has the main backup on it and map the shared directory as a network drive in the same way as you did on all the other computers. This time map it as the M drive to avoid confusion.
  5. Next install Backup Easy in the same way as you did above.
  6. For the target directory select the M drive you just mapped.
  7. Click the add button, navigate to the office_backup directory you crated earlier and click select. You can also select any other directory on this computer to be backed up at the same time.
  8. Click the settings tab.
  9. Tick the box next to Friday
  10. Tick the three boxes labelled automatic backup, backup modified files only and include fill path.
  11. Select 7pm as the time for the backup
  12. Click save
  13. Click the File tab.
  14. Click Hide and the program will be minimised the system tray

Everything should now be configured so that all the office computers backup to one computer on Thursday night and that computer backs itself and the backup up to another computer on Friday night. In order for this to work all office computers have to be left running on Thursday and Friday night. You could also configure it to run on Wednesday and Thursday night to save the electricity from leaving the computers on all weekend. It’s a bit complicated to setup but hopefully this all makes sense. This is the easiest and cheapest method of creatign a reliable backup system I have found so far.

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