My girlfriend no longer has space on her laptops' drive to store her photos.

The drive she has now is 750GB, going to a bigger drive would be expensive, as there aren't many 1.5tb 2.5 inch 9.5mm hdds on the market (as of now, there is only one). Because of that, I am thinking of moving her pictures to a cheap external usb hdd.

As of now, I'm automatically backing up her important folders (My Documents, Pictures, etc.) using Windows 7 default backup software to a network drive.

My problem is that I don't know of a good solution to automatically backup a folder residing on an usb disk.

The usb disk won't be attached to the computer all the time, so I can't just treat it as a normal backup folder. Sometimes the backup would run and the folder would not be there!

Anyone knows any software or methodology to backup folders on external usb hard drives that are not always present?

  • The obvious question here (which is not an answer to your post) is: Does she have backup? Laptop sometimes get stolen or fall. Laptop drives get damaged. And if she does have a backup, does she need all fotos in maximum quality on the laptop? Keeping a local copy with the laptops screen size (e.g. down to 1920x1200 jpgs) could save a lot of diskspace. An alternative might be to add a second HDD rather than just one larger HDD. – Hennes Oct 28 '13 at 15:51
  • As of now, I'm automatically backing up her important folders (My Documents, Pictures, etc.) using Windows 7 default backup software to a network drive. Her laptop is her only computer. The thing is, her photos no longer fit on her laptops disk. So I'm thinking of moving them to an external USB hdd. The question here is how do I automatically backup the photos on an external usb hdd. – Ricardo Teixeira Oct 29 '13 at 16:49
  • Two ways to do the last: 1) Precisely the same as you do now. After all, the external drive acts the same as the internal drive and you either configure a backup program or configure the backup job with the task scheduler. 2) Or even do the backup from another computer. Slightly more complex but it can save time if your main backups are off site. Very useful for the first backup. 3) An yet another not asked one: do TEST the backup. Test and know that you can restore them. And how to do that in case the laptop crashes. I know that seems basic but is often overlooked. – Hennes Oct 29 '13 at 20:33

Any decent backup software can handle destinations that come and go. It typically comes down to whether said software can tell a difference between a removable and a fixed device and not spit out a stream of errors when a removable drive goes missing.

Secondly, you probably want to look at whether backup program supports removable device tracking. That's it should recognize the device even if it appears under a different drive letter and it should understand when some other device is assigned original device's drive letter. Otherwise you will have a nice little mess with backups going to whatever is currently attached to X:\

One program I used that supports this really well is Bvckup (*edit - that'd be Bvckup 2). Also, I think Acronis has removable support, but I was testing it when I wasn't paying attention to this feature, so I might be off.

  • It is not the destination that comes and goes. The destination is a network attached drive. What comes and goes is the usb drive that has the photos I want to backup. – Ricardo Teixeira Oct 29 '13 at 16:51
  • Same thing, backup programs can typically monitor for a location being available. It can be either the source or the destination. – Angstrom Nov 6 '13 at 10:11
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    I ended up using Bvckup. What a great piece of software. Very clean and minimal and supports backing up from and to non permanently attached usb drives. – Ricardo Teixeira Oct 27 '14 at 10:20

If you're using Windows 7, then an external HD can be backed up with the built in back up procedure. Instead of letting Windows Choose, just select Let Me Choose and the extra HD will appear as long as it has a Drive Letter assigned.

If the external is not connected when a back up is due, then it will back up the next time it connects to the network.


After checking on the versions, only Ultimate and Professional allow for back up on a network. It seems you're already using a network back up so this shouldn't be a problem, but I wanted to state it anyways.

  • Thanks! That's what I wanted to know before I bought the usb hdd and move her photos to it. Won't windows delete the files in the backup when it starts a backup without the source usb disk attached? Any change you know how can I test if it does? – Ricardo Teixeira Oct 29 '13 at 16:54
  • Not to my knowledge. When a back up is supposed to occur, if both medias are not present then it will just not happen. The next time you connect both medias it will just start it's backup if it missed one. Also note that the HD must be recognized as a HDD (like C:) and not as removable storage. – Grant Oct 29 '13 at 17:23

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