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Can’t I Just Copy Everything to Back Up?

Only if you really can copy everything. (Spoiler: you can’t.)

Backup 74% Complete
It's tempting to just use file-copy tools to back up what you think you need. But you can easily miss something very important.
Question: For security in case of a crash, can I just copy everything — like my entire C: drive — to an external drive as a backup, rather than using a backup program? At the present time I am just copying My Documents to a flash drive, but am concerned that to recover I would have to rebuild all the files and updates if I had a crash.

Sure. You can do that: just copy everything. It provides a level of protection, and it’s significantly better than doing nothing at all.

But your safety net has some extremely large holes in it.

There are things a “copy everything” backup misses that a traditional backup program would catch — things you’ll really care about when the worst happens.

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Copying everything to back up

You can back up by copying all files from your system drive to a backup drive. Files in use will be skipped, including much of Windows itself. This approach also frequently saves only the most recent copy of a file, overwriting whatever was saved previously. A dedicated backup program has neither of these limitations and will keep you much safer against a wider variety of threats.

Copy everything to another drive

The scenario proposed here is backing up C: by just copying all of it to an external drive, like F:. If you’re familiar with Windows Command Prompt, it might look something like this:

C:> xcopy /e /h c:\ f:\

There may be other options that would make sense, but I’ve included the important ones to copy the contents of all files and folders from the root of the C: drive to the root of the F: drive, and copy hidden and system files as well. It would have to be run “as administrator” to pick up files that normal accounts don’t have access to.

In theory, it seems simple, and it’s conceptually close to what a backup program does.

But there are some very important things missing.

What “copying everything” misses

Many important files are not backed up using this approach.

Most importantly, many1 files open in running programs at the time of the backup will not be copied.

And some files are always in use.

The most notable may be the Windows registry — the storehouse of settings and configurations used by Windows and installed applications. If Windows is running, the files containing the registry are locked from outside access.

Without the registry, if your hard drive were to die, you’re still looking at a complete reinstall of Windows, followed by a complete reinstall of your applications, onto a replacement drive.

The registry is just the tip of the iceberg. When running, Windows has many other files open, preventing you from backing them up with a simple copy/paste. Other applications may also be running with locked and uncopiable open files.

A backup program really can copy everything

Backup programs use functionality specifically designed to give them access to protected files and files in use.

In other words, a backup program copies everything.

There are a couple of other less-critical-yet-handy benefits to using a backup program.

Most backup programs easy to set and forget. Once configured, they run and back up automatically. Yes, you should test your backups, but you won’t have to waste much energy thinking about them on a regular basis; they just happen.

But there’s an interesting scenario in which a backup program can save the day that doesn’t involve a hard-disk crash or other catastrophic failures.

How “copy everything” backups lose files

Imagine this scenario.

  • You create an important file. I’ll call this version 1.
  • Your nightly file copy backup backs it up.
  • The next day, you make changes to the file, creating version 2.
  • Your nightly file copy backup backs it up, overwriting version 1 in the backup.
  • The next day you realize that those changes to version 2 were a horrible, horrible mistake.

You really want version 1 back. Except it’s gone. It’s been overwritten everywhere, including your backup, by version 2.

Had you been using a good backup program, that scenario may have had a different outcome.

Incremental backups

Imagine this scenario instead.

  • You create an important file. Once again, it’s version 1.
  • Your backup software creates a full image backup of your hard drive, including the file.
  • The next day, you make changes to the file to create version 2.
  • Your backup software creates an incremental backup, backing up only those files that have changed since the previous backup, including version 2.
  • The next day, that same realization hits: version 2 was a disaster, and you need to revert to version 1.

In this scenario, you can. An incremental backup has two important differences over the “copy everything” approach:

  1. It only adds files to the backup, never deletes them.
  2. It only adds those files that have changed since the previous backup.

That means that version 1 of your file is still there, ready to be recovered with your backup software.

Incremental in practice

I configure my backup software to:

  • Create a full image backup of everything once a month.
  • Create an incremental image each night of everything that changed that day.
  • Save backups for at least two months.

That means I can revert any file to the state it was in any day in the preceding 60 days.

Now, aside from the “files in use” problem I talked about earlier, you could probably devise a system using batch files and copy operations to mimic much of this. But a backup program is more reliable, easier to use, and in my opinion, worth every penny.2

“Copy everything” can work sometimes

To be fair, there are scenarios where simple file copies work well enough.

For example, I have some drives that contain only data, and no files are in use in the middle of the night. I just copy or “mirror” those drives to other drives nightly using a simple file copy operation, much like the command line example shown above. There’s no need for a more sophisticated backup, and the mirrored drive is simply there, on my network, ready to be used at any time.

Copying files to backup can also be a space saver under two conditions:

  • You know — and I mean really know — which files should be backed up and which you don’t need. Often that’s as simple as having all of your data on a separate drive, partition, or folder.


  • Your system drive is either backed up using a backup program, or you plan on reinstalling the operating system and all applications from scratch in the case of a catastrophic failure.

It’s a completely valid way to back up, as long as you know it’s sufficient for your situation. It’s important to realize that for many people, a complete reinstall would mean a couple of days of lost work, whereas a backup program could have taken care of it in an hour or so.

And that brings me to my final point about using copy operations as backups: restoration.

Restoring your copied files

As we’ve seen from our original example, a “reverse copy” of the backup on F: back to C: would not restore your system. Certain critical files, such as the registry, would be missing. Your “restored” drive would not be able to boot. You could recover data files from your backup, and perhaps some other files, but that’s about it. It wouldn’t restore your entire system.

If your intent is to back up everything so that in the case of a failure you can simply and quickly replace a hard drive and restore everything, then a good backup program is the only way to go.

For a complete overview of one approach to backing up properly, have a look at How to Back Up Windows 10.

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Footnotes & References

1: Some will be, but many will not. It depends on the restrictions placed on the files when they are opened by the programs involved.

2: Which can often be no pennies at all, since there are free solutions.

62 comments on “Can’t I Just Copy Everything to Back Up?”

  1. Leo,

    Any suggestions for free/ low cost backup software? I know you “get what you pay for” much of the time, but as a recently married grad student, software can be a hit to the budget. At the same time, having to do a full reinstall mid-semester, the week before a paper is due, is daunting at best (and before you ask, my data files are safe and regularly backed up).

    • Since this comment has been made, Leo has been recommending both Macrium Reflect and EaseUS Todo’s free versions. EaseUS Todo offers incremental backups in its free version and Macrium Reflect offers differential backups.

    • This article shamelessly did not inform readers of one of the most effective and free ways to back up everything using Microsoft Windows.

      You can save an image of your computers current state with Windows Backup.

      It saves the exact image of your computers current state like a snapshot in a VM, but with an image it includes the bootloader, so there is no reinstalling Windows.

      • Windows own backup has been deprecated and is supposedly being removed from future versions. Microsoft has stated that a third party program should be used now. I recommend Macrium Reflect or EaseUS Todo, both of which have free versions which will create images. I talk about image backups all over the site, just do a search.

  2. I started using SyncBackup from 2BrightSparks. Have been very happy with it after struggling with Retrospect for some time. There is a simple mode and an advanced mode. If you use the advanced, the configuration options can be a bit complex. It is not exactly intuitive. Must complement them however on support. They sorted out a problem I had backing up to an external hard disk and response time was within 24 hours to requests. Cost from memory was around US$45 for a 5 user license. You can trial the software for 30 days so suggest you give it a go.

  3. I was looking for a larger HD and noticed Aconis True Image was bundled with the HD which is a good idea. I think it was on Google.

  4. I agree about the new ghost software. Its completely different to the 2003 version and hard to do a complete image backup of your c: drive. I find ghost is the best (and fastest) way of doing a complete backup of your system and its fast to restore from too.

  5. As I recd. nil response last time, please can I request an opinion to the following which hasn’t been covered before as far as I am aware –
    My DELL 9300 laptop has 3 partitions (all different format – FAT16.32 and NTFS) for ‘DELL utilities’, ‘Shipping condition’ recovery using Ctl/F11 and the C: partition (NTFS). The HDD also has the ‘special’ DELL boot sector to enable the shipping recovery action – see(
    Can you advise if its possible to copy whole HDD to my ext.250Gb USB drive please and then do incremental updates of the C: partition – to cover possibility of HDD failure?
    Rgds. G (an oldie UK fan)

    Hash: SHA1

    I’m probably just not understanding the question. Based on what I *think*
    you’re asking, the answer would be “yes”, though I would tend to copy each
    partition individually.

    What am I missing here?



    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  7. You wrote:-

    On day three you realize the changes you made the day before were a huge mistake. Ideally what you want is the copy of the file at the end of day one, before you deleted everything. Unfortunately even your backup no longer has that, as it dutifully overwrote the backup with the results of day two’s work.”

    That happened to me about 25 years ago. :(

    What I reelly reelly want is software that will take a file on my hard-drive (say “My Current File.doc”), compare it with the files in the same folder on the back-up drive, and, if it exists, and has the same size and datestamp, ignore it. However, if either is different, the software then changes the name of the file on the back-up drive to (in this example) “My Current File 20090812 145302.doc” and then copies the new version under its own name.

    I’ve been struggling to create a VBA routine in Excel to do this…..

    Do you happen to know of any commercial software that would do it for me ?

    • If I understand your question correctly, DropBox will do that. Each time you save a file DropBox will copy it to it server as the newest version of your file. So, if you need to go back to a prior version, just see DropBox. They keep version up to 30 days, but I have had older ones restored from there. DropBox is not an answer to full system backup, but it is great at what it does.

  8. Leo! I have been following you for a while now and i have to say that you saved my butt. I attempted to install Ubuntu and something went crazy. I had done as you suggested and backed up with Easetodus on a cd (no outside hdd in budget) which with the help of youtube ihave my machine running again. Just a tip for others uninstalling ubuntu; use EasyBCD just as shown on the tube first, then remove that useless piece of a step-back binary learning tool from linux.

  9. I use a three-step approach to system security.

    1. Backup of the C: drive every week to an external drive.
    2. Save all data files to an external drive, every week.
    3. Clone the C: drive to a separate drive every month.

    In addition to the above, I create a restore point once or twice a week.

  10. I’ve often wondered about this. My image backups works once a week so after a couple of years have original large file and a 100 followups. So if I needed to restore, it’d begin with the first one, but do I have to restore all hundred files? Or just the first and last one? This part is confusing.

      • My backup created a huge full drive image two years ago, and every Sat night it makes an incremental.
        If I ever have to restore, so I use the first large one and then add all the rest of them?
        About a hundred incrementals.

        • If you restore your computer, it will look at all of the backups from your first backup up to and including the incremental backup point you are restoring to. That’s why it’s generally more practical to start your backup sequence over again every so often. The most common backup plan is a monthly full backup with a month of incrementals. In your case, you can do a full image backup and start the sequence again after approximately 30 incrementals or whatever is most convenient.

        • Yep. That’s why I recommend typically doing a new full backup once a month, and thus only 30 daily incrementals at most to go through.

  11. I am using windows 10 on a HP lap top for a little while now.What has happened is that i resently discovered that when i move my hand over the area where the mouse is, the arrow jumps to different places be it my document or my desk top this did not happen before and it is driving me crazy. What do you suggest I do?
    Another case also, with my windows 10 is that since I an user of NetFlix I cannot use the dropdown system becouse i don’t have my minus sign. Why is this happening? Lastly it drives my totally nuts that fact the screens keep on changing size which forces me rub the mouse area to bring it bach to a readaible size.
    Please help!

  12. I notice in your discussion of backup types you mention only “Image”. How about “Clone”?
    Please discuss the plusses/minuses of each.

    • Leo has mentioned in other articles that he doesn’t talk much about cloning, because for all practical purposes a system image backup contains all of the relevant information of a clone backup and takes up much less space on the backup drive.

  13. Which is better: image backup or just copy backup (for my personal computer at home, running on Windows 7)?

    Does Windows Backup provide the incremental backup? Like, if I backup today, and run another next month, do I have the option to choose that only modified files will be backed up?

    • By copy backup, I mean to say that only the files in registry and everything will be copied, but the hard drive shall not be bootable, rather than the cloning operation of partitioning the external hard disk.

    • It’s not a question of which is better. It’s a question of which is better for you. Backing up just your files is not a bad strategy, but if your drive fails or you get hit with severe malware, your files may be safe, but you would have to install of your programs and get their and Windows settings back to where you like. I recently had a system failure and for that laptop, I didn’t have image backups. Now 3 weeks later, I still find myself installing programs I forgot to install when I reinstalled Windows. No data was lost because I do all my work in OneDrive, but I could have saved a lot of time with regular image backups.Backing up only files also runs the risk of missing some files.

      Windows 7 built-in backup doesn’t allow incremental backup but it allows you to restore individual files.

    • They serve two different needs, but I prefer image backups in general. That way there’s no question about what’s backed up (everything). Windows backup does not do incrementals.

  14. Leo, the article was really great. The comparison and stuff, great. I am also using incremental backup technique to backup my important files at the end of the day. To do this I use GS Richcopy 360, it has other features too that you listed. Now, I know this software much better thanks to you.

  15. I’m just learning Power-Shell and run now exactly into this, because i wanna evaluate gs richcopy 360 Logs. In this Logs there are lots of pathnames longer than 220 Chars……….

  16. Leo: You mentioned that an incremental backup “only adds files to the backup, never deletes.” That’s true, but they would appear to be deleted if you only looked at the latest incremental backup. You’d have to restore from an incremental backup taken after the file was created (or in the state you want) and before the file was changed or deleted. In other words, the file appears to be deleted or changed in the latest incremental backup.

  17. I’ve copied files in use without any problems. I became aware of this when I’ve tried to move files which were in use. It gave me an error message that it couldn’t delete the file in use. It performed the copy but couldn’t remove the file in use.
    It copies the original file without reflecting the changes the program which is using it is making, but I believe that’s how a backup program would also handle it.
    When I set up a computer for friends, I insist they have a USB HDD. I install EaseUS Todo with incrementals and a .cmd file with a Robocopy command to copy all of the user files. I do this because it means less work for me. It’s easy to find the backup copy on the backup drive. If something needs to be restored from the incremental backup, they usually call me. That additional copy backup avoids some phone calls and TeamViewer sessions.

    • There are different flavors of “in use”. A program can open a file saying “anyone can read this file while I have it open” for example. They can also open it “exclusively” so that no one can access it in any way (think the paging file, for example). There are actually many, many variants of what we kind of roll up into “in use”.

  18. My biggest concern with back-up software is that I will not be able to restore files unless I still have the original back-up software and it still runs on whatever computer I will use in future. So I create, I system image only for the system, but copy all my working files. Also, if I create a new version of a file, I rename them accordingly, as in XXXv1 and XXXv2. This is quite time consuming, or course.

  19. Hi Leo,

    I know you have stated that file get copied 100% of original quality, but no amount of copying can change a thing in both video and audio right? I’m asking since I have been copying and deleting a folder of videos back and forth many times.


    • Digital data does not degrade when copied, no matter how many times. (Or, rather, if there is an error in the copying process it will fail and you’ll get an error.) This is one of the HUGE benefits of digital data.

  20. Morning!! Once again a good article on probably the most important computer subject. I have used Macrium Reflect for over a decade and have done weekly images…keeping the last three…zero problems and its saved my butt many times. I know its hard to keep pounding this subject into the less-informed but know that you probably actually get thru to a few more each time….haha keep up the good work…clas.

  21. What I do now on my home computer is as follows:

    – incremental backup every Saturday night to external hard drive with Macrium Reflect
    – full backup first Saturday every night to external hard drive with Macrium Reflect
    – monthly auto-backup of Dropbox (where most of my files are kept) to pcloud
    – when I remember, backup OneDrive (where some of my files are kept_ to pcloud (pcloud’s autobackup stopped working on OneDrive)
    – 2x a year, I download photos from Google Photo albums created in that year
    – 2x a year I download my gmail

  22. Leo. You mentioned:
    “An incremental backup has two important differences over the ‘copy everything’ approach:
    1. It only adds files to the backup, never deletes them.
    2. It only adds those files that have changed since the previous backup.”

    I often get too technical when I talk and think (I work with Civil Engineers). To me, #2 literally means “files that have changed”. If there is a NEW file, that file has not been changed. The file only gets “changed” after I alter and save the file. Does “changed” also refer to NEW files that have not been changed?

    • As a recovering Civil Engineer, I feel it necessary to respond. Your question is a good one as it implies that anything that does not exist prior to a backup is not a candidate for being backed up by an incremental backup.

      My take on the word “changed,” IN THIS CONTEXT, is that if the file did not exist prior to the creation of the incremental backup and then it did exist at the time the backup was initiated, then that file creation is a change and the new file would be backed up by the incremental backup. Sort of like a switch – light on, light off or wax on, wax off…

    • Maybe what Leo said was technical. Adding a file is technically changing it from nothing to something :-)
      That’s the difference from civil engineers. Software engineers create something from nothing. You guys can’t do that so the concept is foreign to you :-)

    • Mark J: “Software engineers create something from nothing. You guys can’t do that so the concept is foreign to you”. OK, I think I know what you mean, but come on! Engineers don’t create things from nothing?

      But this discussion reminded me of a related topic which should be mentioned when talking about backing up changes to a given file and versions of a file: If maintaining file versions is a real concern then you should consider a version control software (AKA revision control software). A version control software maintains versions of specific files, which can be retrieved independent of a massive system image backup. It can also offer features such as version comparison that can show you exactly what was changed from one version to another. Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox offer version control features, but that’s likely going to cost some money and probably not something that the typical home computer user will need. But note that a version control software or version control within cloud storage doesn’t replace a backup and you still need to backup, and backup your version control software and its archives.

      As far as engineers of any type are concerned, they are very familiar with version control. Every document and design artifact they deal with must be versioned and the changes tracked. When a bridge collapses everyone wants to know who changed what.

  23. Dear all,
    Many thanks for all the advice, my brain is now churning.
    Ps. I promise to read all the emails and learn.
    Stay safe


  24. There is another reason to perform backups by creating images rather than by just copying folders. After many years, the Windows Explorer file system in my Windows 7 computer contains many layers of folders and subfolders. The total number of characters in the names of the files in these layered folders and subfolders slowly builds over time as I keep adding additional subfolders. Without my realizing it, the names of some of the files finally exceeded the 255 characters maximum allowable by Windows. At that point, if I try to copy the folders in my, say, C:\My Documents folder over to an external hard drive, I end up getting a spate of error messages telling me that certain files cannot be copied because their file names are too long. This is often the case with many dozens of files – too many for me to conveniently go back and individually rename them and all their antecedent folder and subfolder names with shorter names. So all those files that don’t get copied aren’t actually backed up since they didn’t get copied onto the external hard drive.

    Out of curiosity I tried using the EaseUS Todo (Free) backup program to copy them over to my backup hard drive as an image. That program obviously does things differently, as you have discussed, than a straight copy because the files with the names too long to be copied were transferred within the image with no problem. One of the other backup choices within EaseUS Todo is labeled “File Backup,” in which you specify what files/folders you want to backup and specify where you want them backed up to. Again it was able to perform the backup via copying without leaving any files or folders uncopied because of having names too long for Windows to make a straight copy.

    I haven’t tried this yet, but I believe there is a way to enable making straight copies of files with names too long for Windows by making a change in the Registry. I don’t know if it can be done in Windows 7, however. It would be nice to know how to do this since my Windows Explorer file system is rife with overly long-named files, preventing doing backups without leaving files uncopied and hence at risk when I do end up transferring folders onto different external hard drives in my system by straight copying. Any suggestions for doing this might be appreciated by other readers, as well as myself, who have run into this same problem.

    • The registry fix you’re talking about for extending path length is in Windows 10, not Windows 7. The length limitation applies to the entire path and file name, starting with the C:\. Your best bet is to manually shorten some of YOUR top level folder names to get the overall path length to below 255 characters. I’m talking about the names for folders that you have created. Do not change any of the Windows folder names. Since you already complained that this is too difficult a manual task, I’ll just say that sometimes the brute force method is the most reliable (without getting yourself into more trouble).

      The moral of this story is to never store your personal files under any OS folders. Besides the type of problem you’ve encountered, you’re subjecting yourself to possible havoc. This type of havoc has already occurred in Windows 10 when an update decided to delete some files under the Users folders. Also, these OS folders are primary targets for malware and data thieves. If you were looking for someone’s documents, photos and videos, the first places you’d look are in folders called Documents, Photos, and Videos.

      • Certainly what Mark says will work better than a folder under the OS’s Users. But in another post on AskLeo I suggested that it would be best to store your personal files in a partition separate from C:\. This will be your data partition and it can facilitate and better organize backups.

        • Leo has never recommended partitioning the system drive. It’s purely a personal choice. This article highlights the pros and cons.
          Should I Partition My Hard Disk?

          My personal reason for not partitioning is a non-partitioned disk makes better use of the space. If you allocate too much space to the c: partition, you have less space for data and if you don’t allocate enough space on the c: partition, you run out of space for programs. Of course, allocating too much space on c: drive isn’t such a big problem as you can store some data there, but not enough space on the c: drive can make things a little messy.

  25. A very interesting discussion. But Leo why do you not explain why it is possible for Windows and i.e. Macrium Refect to backup files which are in use? And what happens to the file if it is modified after the backup started but before the backup finished? Will it be backed up with its modifications or not?
    Another strange thing is that nobody talks about what happens to the time stamps of a file if you do a backup and restore with a backup program like Macrium Reflect and compare with a “backup and restore” with XCOPY. Macrium Reflect keeps time stamps but XCOPY does not!!! I sometimes have to reorganize my files on my different HD:s. Then of course I want to keep the creation date of all my files. I mean, nothing has happened to the files then just moved them to a new location The times stamps should of course then be intact. This is very important if you search for or sort files with i.e. Windows Search resp. Windows Explorer. I have never understood why Microsoft has had this annoying intrinsic behavior in Windows and Dos since version 1.0. I know that Robocopy can handle problem this but Robocopy is a very clumsy program with a lot of difficult switches to remember.
    Macrium Reflect and probably all other good backup program keep all timestamps in a backup and restore cycle. Keeping time stamps is another big advantage of using a backup program compared to i.e. XCOPY.

    • The backup program will back up the file in use in the state it is in on the drive at the moment that file is being copied. It’s similar to taking a photo of a sport’s play in action. XCopy makes a copy of the file while backup programs take a snapshot of the file. If XCopy creates a new timestamp, that is a choice of the program developer.
      There are third party programs which preserve timestamps. For example, I use Total Commander, a two-pane file manager replacement for File Explorer. It defaults to not preserving the timestamp but has a configuration setting to always preserve the time stamps.
      I don’t know specifically how backup programs copy files in use, but they operate at a very low level in the system and have permission to copy everything.

      • (Mark) “The backup program will back up the file in use in the state it is in at the moment”. If you mean to imply something such as you’re in the middle of editing a Word file and the backup program copies your currently unsaved edits, that’s not correct. If the backup program saved a file “at the moment that file is being copied” it would have to get into memory (RAM) and/or temporary files used by every application to manage editing a file, and then reconstruct the backup file to look like the current state. A backup program copies what’s already saved on disk.

        As to the issue of backing up files “in use”. In use means whether or not an administrative access lock has been placed on the file by Windows or the application using the file, not necessarily a file that’s open on the screen. The methods by which backup programs copy locked files are to use the Windows Shadow Copy feature and tools or get low level access to data saved on the disk (i.e. not use the Windows copy command). The Windows Shadow Copy service takes periodic snapshots of changed files and saves them somewhere else, which can be copied using administrative access. Remember that these backup programs have low level admin permissions.

    • From the article: “Backup programs use functionality specifically designed to give them access to protected files and files in use.” It’s complex, but is what the “VSS” or Volume Shadow Service is all about.

      I believe XCOPY has an option to preserve timestamps. I’m almost positive robocopy (another powerful command line copy tool) does as well.

  26. Hi Leo, firstly thank you for your weekly newsletter wich I read avidly every week. I feel a bit guilty in that as a pensioner with limited funds I have not made any subscrpitons or donations.

    BACK UP.
    I have an unusual configuration, a belt and braces scenario.
    Disk 0 — 7 partitions, System Reserved, Windows10-32 Active, Windows 10-64 Active, Virtual Macine, Winows10-32 Backup, Window 10-64 Backup, Winows7.
    Disk 1 — 6 partitions for Data.

    I make a complete back up using ‘EaseUS Todo Back Free v 13.0’ every 2 weeks. Before doing so I verfy that each System is up to date using Windows “Update and Security.”

    Last time after updating my “Windos 32 Active”, it crashed. and would not load, telling me the file ” Winload.Exe” was missing. I tried to recover the Winows32 acive partition 3 times from the last 3 backup, via my Emergency EaeUS CD, from my external USB Back up drive, without success.
    Maybe I should recover the entire SSD, but I am afraid of losing everything. What am I dioing wrong ? ” HELP ” please.
    Regards Chris.

    • It’s more important to do a system backup before a Windows update. Windows updates often cause problems. If you have a backup taken before the update, you can roll back and reverse the problem. This is closing the gate after the horses have escaped, but it can save a lot of grief in the future.

  27. Interesting thread. But I was hoping for something simpler. I have onedrive and a lot (about 350 Gb) of hobby research data files on it. I **NEVER** want to retrieve previous versions of data files. I **ALWAYS** have my system and program files backed up elsewhere. All I want is to periodically (monthly — don’t judge me) back up the onedrive data files to an external local drive. Easy the first time, xcopy or robocopy. The second time I don’t want to copy files that are unchanged, only changed or new ones. I’ve read the Microsoft material about xcopy syntax and I don’t understand a word of it. Can you help. All I want is XCOPY [from onedrive] to D:\backupfolders /[don’t rewrite unchanged files].


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  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.