Data Centers

Launch easy backups with Second Copy 2000

Why browbeat your users into backing up their data themselves when you can use Second Copy 2000 to perform the task? Thomas Shinder examines the backup options that come with this software and walks you through the process of setting up a profile.


Backing up is hard to do. However, data backups are critical if you want your company to stay in business. For most small companies, data is often stored on fat client computers because users are often recalcitrant about saving data to network drives. It only takes a couple of network outages to make a user reluctant to save information to a network location.

Thus, data needs to be saved in a central location because it simplifies the backup process. Second Copy 2000 is a program that will make backing up critical data a cinch. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll examine Second Copy 2000 and demonstrate how easy and powerful it is to use. You’ll see how Second Copy 2000 can free you from error-prone scripting and make backing up a joy.

What you can do with Second Copy 2000
Second Copy allows you to create backups of user and server data. With Second Copy, you can do the following:
  • Back up the My Documents folder on user desktops.
  • Synchronize directories on mirrored Web servers.
  • Create backup copies of files that have changed.

Back up users' My Documents folder
Most companies, large and small, use Microsoft Office applications to create their business documents. The default location where files created by these applications are stored is the My Documents folder. Users typically just throw all of their files into that folder, while the tidier among them will create a folder hierarchy within this parent folder to organize their information. A few of them even go out of their way to create separate folder hierarchies outside of the My Documents folder.

You can install Second Copy 2000 on a file server and then share the users’ My Documents folder. Second Copy 2000 can then be configured to back up the information in each user’s My Documents folder to a folder on the server assigned to that user. The backup can take place once a day or several times a day.

Synchronize directories on Web servers
By default, Second Copy is configured to copy files from one location to another. If the file is in the source location and not in the destination location, it is copied; the file is also copied if the file in the source location is newer than a file of the same name in the destination location. If the file is in the destination location but not the source location, it is not copied back to the source. This is akin to your typical “normal” or “full” backup.

This type of backup might not be optimal if you have content on multiple Web servers that you want to synchronize. Developers might be working on different machines at different times. To ensure that all machines contain the same content, regardless of where the content was initially placed, you need to synchronize the directories on the machines, a chore that Second Copy 2000 can be configured to handle.

Create backup copies of changed files
You’ve probably used the Recycle Bin to restore files that have been inadvertently deleted. And you may have even implemented a network version of the Recycle Bin that allows you to recover files that have been deleted over the network. But what do you do when the file has not been deleted but unrecoverable changes have taken place on the file so that it might as well have been deleted?

Using conventional file copy procedures would leave you with a problem. But you can easily configure Second Copy 2000 to create backup copies of older files that have been overwritten by new versions. This feature is handy when a user comes to you wanting to know if it’s possible to recover a version they did “last week.”

Creating Second Copy 2000 profiles

Figure A


Backup jobs in Second Copy 2000 are stored in profiles. After starting the Second Copy 2000 program, you’re presented with the program windows showing the existing profiles (see Figure A).

Create a new profile

Figure B
The Custom Setup selection provides you with the widest array of options.


To create a new profile, select the folder icon on the left side of the toolbar or choose File | New Profile. After you choose to create a new profile, the New Profile wizard begins (see Figure B). You have two choices:
  • Express Setup
  • Custom Setup

The Express Setup is a three-step wizard designed for novice users. As a network administrator, you’ll want to use the Custom Setup option.

Identify the source files and folders

Figure C
You also have the option to copy subfolders of a parent folder by selecting the option Include Sub Folders.


After you decide on the Custom Setup option, you tell the profile wizard the name of the folder you wish to copy (see Figure C). Note that you can use Universal Naming Convention (UNC) paths in your source and destination folders. This makes it easy to set up Second Copy 2000 on a server and configure a series of profiles that will allow copying the contents from user machines through the network.

Include or exclude specific files and folders

Figure D
If you select the Only Selected Files And Folders option, another dialog box will appear that allows you to create an inclusion or exclusion list.


On the next page of the wizard (see Figure D), you decide whether you wish to copy all the files in the folder or just some of the files and subfolders. The All Files And Folders option causes all files and folders to be copied, while the Only Selected Files And Folders option allows you to specifically include or exclude files and folders.

Decide on the destination location

Figure E
In this example, we will use a UNC path to denote the destination for the files.


The next step is to assign the destination for the copied files and folders (see Figure E). The destination can be a place on a local hard disk, a CD-RW drive, a removable drive, or a network location. Note that you cannot copy files to a tape drive, because Second Copy 2000 must take advantage of native file system support. Tape drives typically convert data into their own proprietary format before copying the data to tape. However, some tape drive software allows you to mount the drive as a removable disk device (such as the OnStream tape drive software). If you have this kind of software for your tape device, you can use Second Copy 2000 to copy the data to tape.

Decide when to copy files and folders

Figure F
The Do Not Run Before option allows you to delay the first copy event, which prevents the copy process from taking place right after you complete the profile.


After deciding on the destination location, you configure when the files should be copied (see Figure F). The default setting is to copy files from the source location to the destination location every two hours. This option is highly configurable, and you can copy every few minutes to every few months.

On the right side of the dialog box, you can choose to have the files and folders copied automatically at Startup or Shutdown. The Startup option is a nice one because you have the option to copy files to the destination before the user has a chance to mess them up. The Shutdown option is helpful because it allows files to be copied that might have been missed because a scheduled copy had not yet taken place. You also have the option to exclude certain days of the week, such as weekend days when no one is working.

Note
If you select the Shutdown option, it adds options to the tray icon for Second Copy 2000.

Figure G


The dialog box in Figure G shows the new options added to the tray icon.

Deciding how the files will be copied

Figure H
For this example, I chose the Simple Copy method.


Now it's time to decide how you want the data copied to the destination location (see Figure H). You can copy data from the source to the destination location in several different ways:
  • Simple Copy copies all files in the source folder that do not exist in the destination folder and also copies files in the source folder that are newer than the files in the destination folder. Note that the timestamp is used and not the archive attribute. You can configure the archive attribute to be used in the Advanced Properties dialog box.
  • Exact Copy allows all the files in the destination directory to be the same as the source directory. This is different than the Simple Copy operation because the Simple Copy operation never deletes files in the destination folder. The Exact Copy operation will delete files in the destination folder if they no longer exist in the source folder.
  • Move copies the files to the destination location and then deletes them from the source application. This is especially helpful when you add a new disk to a machine and wish to move a large number of files to the new disk.
  • Compress copies the files into a .zip archive on the destination computer. This allows you to save disk space on the destination location. However, it is recommended that you limit the size and number of files you stored in the destination .zip file. If you anticipate .zip file sizes of more than 10 MB, you might be better off splitting the files off into smaller groups and archiving them that way. If the .zip file becomes corrupted, you risk the possibility of losing all the data contained within the archive.
  • Exact Compress also copies files into a .zip file on the destination location. However, like the Exact Copy operation, it will delete files in the archive that no longer exist in the source location. Both of the compress operations allow you to add a password to the .zip file.
  • Synchronize allows files to be copied bidirectionally. Files in the source directory are copied to the destination, and files in the destination are copied to the source directory. This is a nice option for synchronizing Web server content and any other content where the source and destination files and folder must be the same.

Figure I
There are a great number of options to choose from, such as having Second Copy use the archive bit to simulate a conventional backup program, to spanning files across multiple disks.


After you decide what type of copy operation to perform, you can further refine how it is handled. When you click the Advanced Properties button, you’ll see the dialog box that appears in Figure I.

Figure J shows options available after making the Simple Copy selection. Note the option to Keep Last [user-specified number of] Version(s) Of Deleted Files. The files don’t actually have to be deleted, though. If a user updates a file, the older version is saved in the location you list in the Move Deleted Files To Archive Folder text box.

Figure J
Be careful how many versions of deleted files you save, as the old versions can end up taking up quite a bit of disk space.


Completing the wizard

Figure K


On the last page of the wizard, you give a name to the profile. After naming the profile, click Finish. The profile will run immediately unless you choose to have it wait for a future date to begin (see Figure K).

Conclusion
Backing up user data is difficult to do. In some network environments, it’s hard to get users to save data to a centralized network location. This poses a problem because when users save data to their local machines, it becomes very difficult to back it up efficiently. Second Copy 2000 allows you to automatically back up data located on user desktops. The cool interface allows you a fine level of control over how and when backup copies are created, and it prevents you from having to deal with error-prone and tedious batch files or scripts to get the job done.

Editor's Picks