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HOWTO: Backup to file

Summary: this tutorial explains how to use BackupAssist's ZIP engine to backup to a disk-based device (USB HDD, NAS, FTP, REV drive, etc) on a variety of Windows operating systems, including Windows XP, 2003, SBS and 2008.

The BackupAssist Zip Engine can be used to backup data to a wide variety of storage destinations, including disk-based devices like external HDDs, optical discs, REV drives, RDX drives, local directories, network locations, FTP servers, and also standalone tape drives.

The following instructions are for backing up data to a disk-based device, such as an external HDD, optical disc, REV drive, rdx drive, local directory, network location, or an FTP server.

  1. Download and install the BackupAssist free trial: http://www.backupassist.com/download.
  2. Launch BackupAssist, click File > New backup job and select Zip under ‘File backup’.

    Select Zip

  3. Select the appropriate disk-based device for your backup destination and click Next.
  4. Select an appropriate schedule and click Next.
  5. Configure destination settings for your backup device and then click Next. The following screenshot shows the device settings available for external HDD backups.

    Note: click the help icon in the top right-corner of the window if you need help with device settings.

  6. Select the files and folders you would like to backup to your disk-based backup device and click Next.
  7. If you have selected a portable media device as your backup destination, such as an external HDD, a REV drive, an rdx drive or an optical disc drive, you will be asked to prepare your backup media for use with BackupAssist. Select appropriate Media tracking options and then click Next once you have prepared your backup media.

    Note: click the help icon in the top right-corner of the window if you need help with media preparation.

  8. Name your backup job, confirm your settings, and then click Finish.
  9. In addition to the standard BackupAssist job settings, you can also enable and configure settings specific to the Zip Engine, including: compression; encryption; compression / encryption threads; and NTFS security attributes. To access Zip Engine specific settings for a job click Edit from the top menu, select your Zip Engine backup job and click Zip options from the left menu:

  10. Compression: the Zip Engine gives you the option to compress each backup created on the backup destination. Enabling compression means you will save disk space on the backup destination, and as a result, store more backups on each backup disk / drive.
    • Set compression ratio: drag the slider to “No compression” for faster backups but larger backup sizes, or “Smallest compression” for smaller backup sizes but longer backup completion times. We recommend “Fast compression” if compression is required, as it is much faster than “Smallest compression” and the difference in storage savings (i.e. the amount your data will be compressed) between "Smallest compression” and “Fast compression” is minimal.
  11. Encryption: you can choose to have your backup encrypted with a password. This is useful if you need to make sure that your data is secure. The Zip Engine applies 256-bit AES encryption to a password protected backup file. Once encrypted, a password is required to restore your data, so it is essential that you use a password that you can easily remember.
    • Check Encrypt backup file to enable encryption
    • Enter and confirm a password for encryption in the available fields.
  12. Compression / encryption threads: on a multi-core or multi-processor computer, BackupAssist can use multiple threads to compress and encrypt files, which significantly reduces the time required to perform a backup.  By default, BackupAssist will use one thread for each processor core on your machine minus one (e.g. 3 threads on a dual processor, dual core machine). You should only modify this setting if you experience performance issues when running a backup.
    • To alter the default BackupAssist setting for thread usage check Manually force thread count and enter the number of threads BackupAssist should use when compressing data.
  13. Preserving NTFS file attributes: BackupAssist will try and store NTFS security attributes and alternate data streams that are set in the original source files that are backed up to ZIP. Doing so means you are able to restore exact copies of your original data, including all security information. If the NTFS attributes cannot be kept a warning will appear in the backup report.
    • If you prefer not to be notified in your backup report whether NTFS attributes have been maintained, uncheck Suppress NTFS stream warnings.