Cornell University

Technology Services

146 Ives Hall, 607-255-5484

Backing Up Your Home Computer or Laptop

If the data on your home computer is important to you, you must ensure its safety by backing up your system.

Your backup is the only record of the data you have stored on your home computer or laptop.  If the hard disk or other system components should fail, a good backup will ensure that you do not lose valuable data.

Media that can be used to backup your computer include external or secondary hard drives, USB flash drives, CD-RWs, DVDs, or tape drives. The type you select will depend on the amount of data you have to backup as well as the cost associated with the backup. ILR Technology Services (ILRTS) primarily recommends using external or secondary hard drives, USB flash drives, CDs or DVDs.

For files which do not change frequently, a CD or DVD may be a more cost-effective means of backing up your files. A CD will hold approximately 700 MB and a DVD will hold over 4 GB of data.   An external or secondary hard drive, however, can be much more convenient for large amounts of data or for files which change frequently. A USB flash drive is especially convenient for backing up or transporting files between work and home.

Determining how much data you have to back up:

undefinedRight click on the start menu and highlight Explore.  Click on Local Disk. Right-click on Documents and Settings and choose Properties. The "Size on disk" field will tell you approximately how much data you need to be able to store.

When backing up to a CD or DVD, you will need to copy your files using a CD\DVD writing application such as Sonic Record Now (pre-installed on all ILR-owned computers). When backing up to an external or secondary hard drive or a USB flash drive, we suggest using Robocopy.exe as the backup program.  We will be happy to provide you with the application as well as a template that will backup data stored in default locations. However, locations of files on your system may be different. ILRTS can assist you in finding the specific locations of your files.

Some standard default file locations include:

  • Eudora E-mail is saved to C:\documents and settings \"user login name"\application data \qualcomm\eudora
  • Data files should be located in My Documents which is at C:\documents and settings \"user login name"\My Documents
  • Your Desktop files and shortcuts are stored in C:\documents and settings\"user login name"\desktop

**Note "user login name" refers to the name you type when you log into your computer.

The backup process:

By default, movie and music files, executable files, and .dll files are excluded from the robocopy backup template. We also exclude certain user profile directories, but these can be added to your backup if you choose. These directories would generally be of little use if a full restore of your system were required.

To set up Robocopy.exe and the backup process, copy robocopy.exe to C:\windows\system32. (You may need to be logged into your computer’s Administrator account.)  Then, copy backup.bat to the media on which the backup files will be sent. Then create a shortcut to backup.bat and put it on your desktop.

Backups can be started manually, scheduled to run at a given time or set up to run automatically when you start your computer.

  • To start the backup manually, place the shortcut to backup.bat on your desktop or on the Start menu. When you are ready to run your backup, insert the media with the backup.bat file on it into the appropriate drive or USB slot and double-click on the shortcut.
  • To schedule a backup, go to the "Scheduled Tasks" control panel. Select "Add a task" and follow the instructions. The task should point to the shortcut or to backup.bat. Be sure you have the appropriate media inserted when the backup is scheduled to run.
  • To run the backup automatically at startup, copy the shortcut to backup.bat to the Startup Group located in Start, All Programs. Be sure to have the appropriate media inserted for the backup prior to logging into your computer.

Robocopy will create a folder called \backup\"username" on the backup disk. Subfolders reflect the default locations of the original/source files. Once the backup process is complete, it is best to verify your backups by opening a random selection of files on the backup media.

If you would like to use the Robocopy.exe application, need help locating files on your computer or need additional assistance, please submit a Desktop Support request.