Automatic Backup using AJC Sync with Windows Scheduler
Not only is AJC Sync extremely versatile for sync'ing
directories, but I also use it to automatically
Windows Scheduler - I'll show you how......
- Do you need to compare folders between two
PC's on your home network ?
- Would you like to schedule automated
disk to disk backups so you don't have to insert
backup media every day?
STOP PRESS: AJC Sync now allows
you to easily schedule
automatic synchronization with fully
for the Windows scheduler. An easy to
use wizard helps you setup your synchronize job
to run at
the times you define. You no longer have
to follow my instructions further down on this
page, because this feature
is now built-in! However you might find my method
of setting up automated backups interesting. I
will also leave this page for reference by other
to use the Windows Scheduler.
AJC Sync lets
you compare and synchronize two directory structures
in a very powerful, yet simple way.
|Genuine Customer Testimonial:
"I have used AJC for several years. The
features I like the most are the simplicity
and ease of use of the product. Once
I established the various scenarios I
wanted to use, its a point and click
I also use to product to backup my home
files to a dedicated internal hard drive
on my desktop PC. I am an armature photographer
and have thousands of pictures on file
that I don't want to lose.
I did try other products that I downloaded
on a try and buy, but did not find any
that are as easy to use as AJC."
I use it every day
to automatically backup files on my PC from one hard
disk to another, whilst also retaining
older versions of the same file in a compact archive.
The same method could be used equally well to backup
your PC over your home network, or office LAN to another computer.
It doesn't really matter, the important thing is to use
two seperate physical storage devices as I will explain
in a moment. Even USB Memory sticks are becoming a popular
|Just as an aside, if
you came to this page looking for Automatic
Backup solutions, and
are interested in an instant or "real-time" backup
solution that monitors your file changes
and archives them as soon as you Save
you might want to take a look at my review
of the latest product from AJC Software, called
AJC Active Backup. Click here for continuous
data protection using instant
realtime automatic backup software. You
might find it more suitable for your needs.
There are just a few important
areas on my PC that hold information that is
vital to me, and that I consider
are critical to monitor and backup daily. If something goes
disastrously wrong I can do a clean install of my operating
system and programs, then restore daily use items from my
In my computer I have
- My C: drive is a 20Gb disk for the operating
system, program files and everyday documents,
internet web site pages,
and so forth.
- My F: drive is an 80Gb disk which
I use for large files, such as music
and videos - and it also holds my automatic backups.
view that it is highly unlikely that both
disks will develop a fault at the same time,
and so I have set up AJC Sync
a couple of different Projects to
copy these important areas to the
second hard disk F: in a new folder called "Backups".
If my main C: drive goes bang,
well I have my secondary copy on my F:\Backups folder.
And if my F: drive
goes bang, it doesn't matter because I still
have those important files on my C: drive,
so I'll just replace the F: drive
with a new one and set it up the same way!
Since AJC Sync can accept command-line
options to run its Projects I then let
the standard Windows Scheduler run a "batch"
file to kick-off the sync Projects at 7.30pm
This means I can be lazy and not worry
about inserting floppy disks, CD-RW disks or
tapes every day.
I do make backups to removable media (I
use DVD-R) every couple of months to be safe,
but then its simply a case of backing up the
whole of the F:\Backups folder to DVD disk in
Easily retrieve old versions of your files!
This method of backing up my important files
is an ideal solution for me, the
key to which is made possible by the ability
of AJC Sync
an Archive of
every file changed which holds different Revisions of
all changes made to the files, thereby enabling
me to get previous versions (using
the free AJC Revision Archive Viewer) in
case the following days automatic backup overwrites
the file with a mistake.
Let me explain this a bit more. Usually by simply
copying from one hard disk to another, if I didn't
notice the mistake until a couple of days later,
have been stuffed and lost the previous version
of the file! That's why you normally should make
backups to different removable backup
media that are rotated on a daily/weekly/monthly
basis, so that you can go back to the previous
good copy of a file.
now that AJC Sync has the
ability to automatically and silently make
Backup Archives as part of its transfer process,
I know I can retrieve an older version of the
file if required, effectively making the requirement
for using rotated backup media obsolete (apart
from the occasional manual backup to CD/DVD).
That's why I don't need to bother with daily
backups to external backup media every day.
Screenshot from AJC Revision Archive Viewer
The ability to store different revisions will
be a boon in itself to software developers,
or document producers, since the AJC
Revision Archive Viewer also uses the AJC
Visual Diff Tool to
show differences between different versions
Screenshot from AJC Diff V2 Tool
All of these
features are easily ready to hand from within
the AJC Sync
interface. By simply selecting any file in
the Explorer, the Synchronize
List or the
History report, then right-clicking the file
the View Archive action, you can see the
versions of the file (as shown above), and
compare them with the current version to determine
changed, and then restore the older version
How to set up the Automatic Backups
The following description assumes you have got
AJC Sync and are familiar with
Prepare the Archiving feature by starting Sync, then choose Tools > Options,
and set the various Archive options as required,
the most important being the Default
Archive Location, which you should set
as your destination backup folder, e.g. F:\Backups. Once
this is set it will be the default for any new
projects you create.
Next, the main starting point is to set up your
AJC Sync project settings to
the transfer of your required directories and
files from your source disk (e.g. C:) to your
destination folder (e.g. F:\Backups), and then
test that it works as required.
In fact I preferred to create one project
per major area to be backed up, but of course this
all depends on how you organise your computers
work areas. For example I backup My Documents and
the majority of its sub-folders using one project,
then a second project to backup my C:\Customers
Work Area, and a third project to backup
my main company related files, C:\Prior
IT, and so on. Anyway you
will hopefully get the idea. It gives greater flexibility
over what is to be backed up, and what synchronization
rules can be applied. [Update: In the latest
version of AJC Sync you create Sync Pairs, one for
each from and to location, which means you can
have many pairs setup in one project.]
example I backup most of the My Documents folder
(C:\Documents and Settings\James\My Documents)
to F:\Backups\My Documents (create
the folder beforehand in readiness).
creating my Project Settings
to exclude the My Music folder
because I have several hundred Megabytes of music
which I don't consider necessary to check for
changes and backup on a daily basis, because
I can generally recreate these from my CD's and
I back them up manually to DVD every 3 months
or so. You should also consider whether there
are certain areas you could exclude to reduce
the amount of disk space used on your destination
(backup) drive. Remember that excluding folders
from the synchronization is done simply by right-clicking
the folder and un-checking the Include
Dir in Sync List option.
not go into great depth on the project settings
here, since I have already given an overview
tutorial on the previous pages, however there
is one particular setting for each Project that
you should disable. In the Project
(press CTRL+O), on the General tab,
at the bottom is an option called Ask
for confirmation when overwriting a file with
older version. You should un-check this
option because otherwise when the automatic backup
occurs it might display a query message and wait
for you to answer, and at that time you might
not be around to provide an answer! When you
click OK to accept the project
settings a message will
be displayed asking that you are sure you don't
want to turn this confirmation back on - just
Make sure you Save your project to
keep the new settings.
Perform a test run of the project to make sure
it backs up all the required folders and files
to the backup drive as you expected.
Creating a Batch File for Windows Scheduler to
AJC Sync can be operated using
command-line options to tell it which projects
[Update: Due to improvements in AJC Sync
this whole section has become irrelevant and is much
easier to perform without having to setup Batch Files,
due to ability to add Sync Pairs into Projects.]
This makes it possible to create a backup
"batch file" which can be run automatically by
the standard Windows operating system Scheduler,
at the required time, and at whatever frequency
is required, e.g. run a particular project daily
for files that are updated each day, and another
project say weekly or monthly for other areas
that are less
Remember that AJC Sync only synchronizes files that have changed according
to the criteria you specify.
To create the batch file start a simple text
editor such as Notepad (not MS Word), then copy-and-paste
the following text into it, make any required
changes, and name and save the file where you
can easily find it,
e.g. in C:\Program Files\AJC
named with a suffix of .BAT,
echo Backup of C: to F:
cd "C:\Program Files\AJC Software\AJC Sync"
AJCDirS.exe "C:\Program Files\AJC Software\AJC Sync\MyDocs.DSY" -SyncNow
AJCDirS.exe "C:\Program Files\AJC Software\AJC Sync\Customer Workarea.DSY" -SyncNow
AJCDirS.exe "C:\Program Files\AJC Software\AJC Sync\Prior IT.DSY" -SyncNow
The first line turns off displaying of the commands.
Line 2 display the text of what it will do.
Line 3 changes to the default program directory
where the Syncprogram lives.
Each of the remaining lines will run a Syncproject (.DSY file),
and includes additional options to run the Synchronization
immediately (-SyncNow), and
when complete exit the program (-Exit).
Simply change these lines to use your project
files (wherever you have saved them), and delete
any of the lines that are surplus to requirements,
then save the file.
Setting up Windows Scheduler to Run the Task
[Update: Due to improvements in AJC
Sync this whole section has become irrelevant and
is much easier to perform within the program due
to its Schedule Backups wizard which adds the
relevant entry into Windows Scheduler for you.]
On Windows XP and Windows 2000, the Windows
Scheduler can be accessed in the Windows Control
Panel, by clicking the Scheduled
Tasks icon. Note: On Windows XP and
2000 by default you may not be able to run scheduled
you have seperate login accounts protected by
passwords. You may have to use User Accounts in
Panel to set up an account and password
for yourself if full login accounts do not yet
Next, click the Add Scheduled Task icon,
then when the wizard starts click Next for
the first step of the
Click the Browse button to find and select the
Batch file you created, e.g. C:\Program
Files\AJC Software\AJC Sync\BACKUP.BAT,
then click Next.
Change the default name derived from the batch
file of "BACKUP" to something more meaningful
like "Daily Backup".
you want to run the task, e.g.
Daily, then click Next.
Set the Start Time, and choose when the task
should be run. Leave the Start Date as it is.
The User Name should be prefilled
with the name of the account you are currently
logged in as.
Enter your account password and confirm it in
the boxes provided, then click Next.
Note that you must enter the password correctly
for the Task to be able to run, and if you change
any of the Task's settings in the future you
must re-enter the password to confirm the changes
The Task is configured, tick the box to Open
Advanced Properties if you want to check or change
any of the settings, then click Finish.
Back on the Scheduled Tasks window you should
now see the new task listed as Daily Backup.
Right-click it and select Run to
test that it runs correctly. You should see Syncstart,
run a project, and exit, once for each project
that you setup in the Batch file. If all seems
correct, leave it until the actual real scheduled
time on the next day, and make sure it works
as expected then also.