Recently I tried to do some backups of my entire Windows 7 64 bit (including system image and the files I wanted) using Window's own backup system and I got an error which I couldn't debug because it is always given in codified code which I don't have time to analyse. In summary, I am without any backup of my system and files for now and I don't know how to fix this Windows backup error.

So I started looking for alternative tools while doing a simple copy and paste of my files to an external HD when I come to notice that this simply copy and paste took far less time to do in this "manual" way that it was used to be with Windows' backup system (already not considering the creation of system image).

Realizing that, I started to wonder: what exactly does a backup software do that is more then simply copy and paste in the background? Of course I'm not considering such more advanced features such as system image and backup of the registry, but when it comes to backup your folders + files, does such backup tools (including Window's own tool) do anything more then simply copy and paste and maybe compress? To say in another way: if I decided to create a simple tool to backup only my folders + files, what should I include on it?


Reading the comments section I came to conclude that maybe my question wasn't clear enough. Although I mentioned my recent problem with Windows' backup system, I'm not here interested in solving that problem; that was only to provide some context for my question. The real question here is: what does backup software do when doing backup of common files besides the simple copy of files to another directory and maybe compress them?

  • Which error did you get? – Steven Jun 21 '15 at 13:08
  • @Steven if you're talking about error code, sorry I don't have it with me. But I could notice it was always in the same moment (looking at the progress bar) and it was always the same code. Problems with a folder, I guess (there are some "casper folders" in my system due to errors in the pass). – Momergil Jun 21 '15 at 13:11
  • @Momergil copy/paste isn't a technical change, it's just a feature that can be used to tell windows which files to copy and where to put them.. You write in your comment " it was always in the same moment " Maybe you're thinking there about moving files within the same partition or perhaps, drive, then they move instantly because it's a question of changing pointers or I recall somebody once saying "shifting fat" or in the case of ntfs, something with that, but not needing to move the whole file somewhere.. But copying.. i'm not sure re diff speeds. Perhaps you can elaborate – barlop Jun 21 '15 at 15:24
  • @Momergil You say you're not talking about the advanced features like imaging. Well, can you give screenshots of one copy procedure that takes much longer than another? – barlop Jun 21 '15 at 15:26

Key features There are several features of backup software that make it more effective in backing up data.


Voluming allows the ability to compress and split backup data into separate parts for storage on smaller, removable media such as CDs. It was often used because CDs were easy to transport off-site and inexpensive compared to hard drives or servers.

However, the recent increase in hard drive capacity and decrease in drive cost has made voluming a far less popular solution. The introduction of small, portable, durable USB drives, and the increase in broadband capacity has provided easier and more secure methods of transporting backup data off-site.

Data compression

Since hard drive space has cost, compressing the data will reduce the size allowing for less drive space to be used to save money.

Access to open files

Many backup solutions offer a plug-in for access to exclusive, in use, and locked files.

Differential and incremental backups

Backup solutions generally support differential backups and incremental backups in addition to full backups, so only material that is newer or changed compared to the backed up data is actually backed up. The effect of these is to increase significantly the speed of the backup process over slow networks while decreasing space requirements.


Backup schedules are usually supported to reduce maintenance of the backup tool and increase the reliability of the backups.


To prevent data theft, some backup software offers cryptography features to protect the backup.

Transaction mechanism

To prevent loss of previously backed up data during a backup, some backup software (e.g. Areca Backup, Argentum Backup) offer Transaction mechanism (with commit / rollback management) for all critical processes (such as backups or merges) to guarantee the backups' integrity.


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