How to schedule a recurring backup of a Windows XP folder to a Network share drive


I have worked on computer backup products for more than 20 years and I still find most of them to be complicated to set up and use. They sometimes include so many features and options that people just give up in despair while trying to configure them.

If you have a network share drive and want to make periodic backups to it, you can do it without purchasing any new software and without having to resort to using Microsoft’s built-in backup utility which stores backups in a proprietary file format. This approach requires a special restore program to examine them or to copy them back to your PC. The fact that Microsoft’s backup utility is so well hidden speaks volumes for their confidence in customers being able to successfully find and use it.

If all you want to do is schedule a simple automated backup of a folder, I will explain an easy 3-step process to set up a recurring backup on Windows XP. I haven’t investigated an equivalent procedure for Windows Vista or Win7, but I assume this technique would work there as well since those operating systems also have similar built-in capabilities.

Step 1: Map the network share to a drive letter.

The first step is to set up the network drive as a drive letter on your PC. To do that, just open up Windows Explorer, basically any folder, and under the Tools menu, select “Map Network Drive”. Your network drive will likely have a name such as “server” and a share that you wish to use such as “backup”. In the dialog box that pops up, you can just type in \\server\backup. XP will let you use the ‘Browse’ feature to find your network drive and share if you don’t happen to know them by name. Once located, you can assign it an available drive letter. Make sure to check the box for your PC to reconnect to it at logon.

Step 2: Create a simple xcopy command in a batch file.

Let’s say the first step gave your network drive the letter X:.

We will now create a simple batch file called backup.bat in Notepad with the following single line that looks like this example:

xcopy "c:\Documents and Settings\Lee\My Documents\SWfiles\*.*" x:\Backup\SWfiles /d /e /y

(that should all be on a single line, but it got wrapped here)

This is the DOS xcopy command which is built into XP. It works like this:

xcopy "source files" "destination folder" /options.

I’ve selected the source files as “c:\Documents and Settings\Lee\My Documents\SWfiles\*.*”. That will back up every file and folder under the folder called SWfiles. I had to put quotes around it because some of the folder names have spaces in them. If you have spaces in any of the folder names, you will need these quotes around the source and/or destination name.

The purpose of the options is as follows:

/d – This option only backs up the file if the source file is newer than the destination file that may already exist. This allows the backup to avoid unnecessary writing if the file hasn’t changed since the last backup.

/e – This option makes the xcopy command search in sub-folders so you back those up files too.

/y – This is to avoid having the job ask for your permission to overwrite existing files.

Let’s save this file as backup.bat in any convenient folder. I put mine in My Documents.

Test it by double clicking on it to confirm it backs up the folder to your network share.

Step 3: Set up a scheduled task to run the batch file.

To open Scheduled Tasks, click Start, click All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Scheduled Tasks.

Double-click Add Scheduled Task to start the Scheduled Task Wizard, and then click Next in the first dialog box. Just follow the wizard to select the backup.bat file and don’t worry if you can’t find the proper options to select, the task is very easy to edit once it’s finished. Unless you select, ‘run only when logged on’, you will have to select a user/password to run this task so if you don’t already have a password set for yourself, you will need to set one up. I set up a My Documents backup to run once a day, but for my SWfiles folder, I wanted it to back it up once an hour. If at first you don’t get it right, you can edit the task by double-clicking on it. Then you can select ‘Advanced’ options to set it up to run it every hour. Set the duration to 24 hours so it will run every hour of the day.

Here’s an example of what the Scheduled Tasks screen looks like:

The Task Scheduler for Windows XP

The Task Scheduler for Windows XP, Click for larger image.

Please keep in mind that if you do this on a laptop, the backups will only happen when you’re connected to your network, so if you’re off traveling with your laptop, make sure you use another backup method (perhaps a Picture Keeper customized to backup all of your favorite file types).

Keep Trousers on the Apes


This is another guest posting by James Lynch, my high school English teacher. Feel free to leave comments or you may email him directly at at jimadalynch(at)

In their eleven-volume series, “The History of Civilization,” Will and Ariel Durant detail man’s attempts to create stable and secure societies. Throughout recorded history, they recount, nations and empires have striven to replace tribal barbarism with societies in which people can live in peace, harmony and economic self-sufficiency. Along the way, historians, poets, scientists, theologians and philosophers have left records of those attempts.

As a species, human beings have violence and predation built into their DNA. Durant relates that man’s history can be traced back a million years before Christ, but that farming as a means of survival began only 25,000 years before. How did our ancestors survive for 975,000 years prior to raising crops? Brutality and hunting were indelibly imprinted in our evolving humanity during that span. In the relatively paltry 2,000 years of the Christian era, those inbred tendencies and instincts have battled with man’s attempts to tame the beast within. Indeed, Durant characterizes contemporary humans as “trousered apes.”

Throughout modern history, societies have attempted to temper those tendencies, as increasing intellectual ability gave rise to rational thought, scientific discovery, and philosophical investigation of man and his place in the universe. It has been a steep learning curve, as wars, destruction and privation dominated the centuries, with the twentieth century ranking as the bloodiest.

Beginning with Gutenberg, the means of exploring the emerging ideas of scientists, mathematicians, economists and philosophers began to gain wider dissemination, and with them came the gradual understanding that humankind had to recognize and cope with its inherently violent disposition. With burgeoning scientific discovery and increasing economic autonomy, western societies realized that the accumulation and sharing of knowledge held the keys, not just to increased wealth and productivity, but to the possibilities of mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence among peoples and nations as well.

In order to preserve those materials, the great universities of Europe eventually became the repository of the accumulated wisdom of prior ages. The genius of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Homer, Horace, Virgil, Cicero and Aquinas, as well as Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Cervantes, da Vinci, Swift, Hobbes, Descartes, Galileo, Locke, Darwin, Tolstoy, Voltaire and many others provides invaluable insight in our quest to understand the nature of humanity. The ugly as well as beautiful truths they have discovered are the means for continuing intellectual evolution toward a better future.

In his “Idea of a University,” Cardinal Newman indicated that the role of a university was to help students “ . . . reach out toward truth, and grasp it.” Sadly, that purpose has been largely replaced in this country’s institutions of higher learning. A great college and university system has, in the last fifty years, become less concerned with academic pursuits than with physical expansion and sports. Major universities have become de facto minor-league farm teams for the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. The perversion of what should be the intellectual pursuit of knowledge afforded by such schools is evident when sports announcers interview professional athletes after a televised game. The level of discourse is often cringe-worthy. In the 1980’s, all-pro football player Dexter Manly of the Washington Redskins admitted that he could not read – after graduating from college. More recently, Terrell Owens announced that he is in financial straits, having burned through an estimated one hundred million dollars. It’s a safe bet that any of the college classes he attended did not include economics.

Instead of the core curricula of previous generations, many of today’ schools offer a variety of watered-down courses, as well as a soft grading system. It is striking that even under these circumstances nearly half of enrolled freshmen drop out before getting a degree. The reasons for such a situation are manifold: 1. the rise of self-esteem as the measure of individual worth (“Everybody gets a trophy” and “We don’t keep score”); 2. the fragmentation of family structure; 3. The lack of preparation by elementary and high schools; 4. public education’s mad chase after federal and state dollars attached to flawed assessment, resulting in teaching for the test, and outright cheating in order to meet governmentally-mandated guidelines. Add to that the voracious appetites of colleges and universities for ever-larger student populations to finance expansion, together with mushrooming sports facilities, and you wind up with a perfect storm.

To keep the college education engine purring, schools often provide a pulse and checkbook admissions policy. Consequently, many poorly prepared students require remediation before they can begin to compete. Anyone who believes that a few first semester remedial classes can erase thirteen years of poor education is engaging in wishful thinking. Once on campus, students can choose classes from columns A through Z which do not require much time, effort or thought. Instead of Greek and Roman classics, and masterpieces of Western civilization – all of which contribute to the cultural bedrock of America – students can now choose elective courses in more contemporary classics, such as 1. “The Simpsons and Philosophy” (Cal Berkeley); 2. “The History of Shopping” (Yale); 3. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie” (Occidental College); 4. “Lesbian Novels Since World War II” (Swarthmore), 5. “Nip, Tuck, Perm and Tattoo” (Alfred University); and 6. “Marxist Concepts of Racism” (Harvard).

Shakespeare, et al. are seen as “Dead white European males” who can’t possibly offer a valuable educational experience to students, because of their collective “racism, misogyny and lack of diversity.” As a result of such lowered standards and expectations, many graduates can’t identify the three branches of the federal government, provide the decade in which the Civil War took place, or name the governor of their state. A recent study by professors at New York University and the University of Virginia found that nearly half of students show “no significant learning after two years of college.” Going to college has become a very expensive four-year “booze cruise” for far too many individuals, a good percentage of whom do not need a college degree in the first place.

Unfortunately, guidance counselors have convinced high school students that they need college in order to walk upright without dragging their knuckles. Trade schools for electricians, carpenters, plumbers and masons just don’t carry a sufficient social cachet. College has been oversold as a necessary step to a better life, but the truth is that it is simply not appropriate for everyone. If you’ve got the ideas and ingenuity necessary to build a better mousetrap, you may not need college at all. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs (drop-outs all) speak to this point.

For those who need a degree – pre-med and pre-law students, engineers, architects, educators, accountants, math and science majors, for example – a core curriculum that includes significant classes should be mandatory. Classes in Greek and Roman classical literature, as well as survey classes in American and Western European history and literature are necessary for a well-rounded doctor, lawyer, teacher or scientist, as are required classes in philosophy, theology and government.

Steeped in the knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the wisdom of European masters, the framers were able to provide the world with the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution reflect all that is best in that canon. Proper education of citizens is the only way to insure that their vision continues for posterity. In a society where more people recognize Snooki than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, we’re truly at a crossroads. Can we keep the trousers on the apes, or do we regress to the forest primeval?

James Lynch
Fleetwood, PA

Damaged Photo Restoration Service


A few months ago, my friend Don showed me a picture he had of himself as a young boy along with his younger sister and older brother. Don will turn 80 this year and it appears he was about 5 in the photo, so it was about 75 years old. The photo had some damage from creases, missing areas, and a few dark spots and he wanted to get it restored but didn’t want to let go of the original since it was irreplaceable. He had an photo scanner sitting next to his computer, so I scanned in the original and emailed it to Jay Yozviak at Photography by Jay, who is the premier photographer in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I figured he’d know of a reliable service where the photo could be sent and restored to remove the defects it had accumulated over its 75 year life. You can see an image of the original photo here (you can click on images for higher resolutions versions of them):

Damaged photo needing restoration and touchup work

photo before restoration

I know that Jay is very capable with PhotoShop but didn’t realize that he also does photo restoration as part of his photography business. In a few days, Jay had restored the image and sent back the results. My friend was extremely pleased with how it turned out. As you can see below, the defects are gone.

damaged photo restored

photo after restoration

He also made up a framed version of the image in black-and-white:

old image converted back to black and whilte

Original image converted back to black and white

If you’d like to get a quote on getting your irreplaceable photos restored to their original condition, you can contact Jay at:

Photography by JAY
284 Dennison Street
Swoyersville, PA 18704

If you’re curious how photo restoration is done, here’s a time-lapsed video of someone doing it on YouTube. The video is only a few minutes, but it shows about 6 hours of work:

Preserving Your Old Photos


As you may have noticed by reading this blog and checking out my other web pages, I am the VP of Engineering at Simplified IT Products, LLC the company that makes the Picture Keeper. It’s the easiest way I know of to protect your digital pictures. The people at AM Northwest recently ran a segment with organizing expert Krista Colvin that talks about the Picture Keeper along with several other tips for managing your digital photo collection. If you are concerned with the security of your digital photo collection, the video linked above is well worth watching.

To summarize it, Krista recommends getting all of your photos stored in one place. The Picture Keeper is excellent for pulling all your photos from multiple computers and putting them in one location. Then make a backup of that collection. But even befor you do that that she recommends sorting your old printed photos into 3 categories, A-List, B-List, and C-List which would work like this:

A-List: I love this photo and really want to keep it.

B-List: This is a nice photo that I want to keep, or it may be an A-List photo for someone else. If so, give it to them.

C-List: The photo is flawed, for example has a finger blocking the shutter or is otherwise unimportant, you should throw those away.

She then talks about scanning all of your photos with a product called Flip-Pal, which I have reviewed here. The flip pal is an excellent way to digitize old photos, particularly if you don’t already have a scanner or if you need the convenience of a scanner that you can take to the photos, instead of bringing the photos to the scanner. And there’s also the option of taking the photos to a scanning service.

Getting all of your old photos scanned an stored on your computer and backed up gives you a lot more options on what you can do with them. The most popular reason for having a digital copy, other than preservation, is to share with others who might be interested in them. People love looking at old pictures and if you really want to brighten someone’s day, send them a copy of a photo that is bound to bring back some fond memories.