How to backup and restore your data using Cobian Backup

As many of you know, today’s digital world comes with a lot of things that make our daily life easier. However, as time goes on you rely more and more on the information stored on your PC. No one is completely safe from power outages, corrupt hard disks, an infected system through a backdoor or trojan, or even a fire. To make sure that a computer can easily be restored to a previous point, software developers created what is called backup software or imaging software.

There are different methods of creating a backup of your partition or hard drive, but this tutorial will only focus on one possibility, using a freeware tool called Cobian Backup.

If you wish to receive a broader overview of the different forms of backing up data, you can browse this excellent Wikipedia article on backups or another one on images.

Installation of the backup software

The first step is to download the software from the author’s page. You will find a download link at the bottom of that site and the current version of the software is version 8 (Black Moon).

Once the setup file is downloaded you need to double-click it to start the setup process.

  1. On the first window you will be asked what language you want the tool to be installed in. English language is pre selected, but there is a wide range of choices to choose from.
  2. Next you will be shown a window containing the License Agreement. You need to accept the agreement by putting a check mark in the box next to I accept the conditions. The button Next will not be grayed out anymore. Click the Next button to proceed
  3. The next window will prompt you for the path where Cobian Backup should be installed. It should be preset to C:\Program Files\Cobian Backup 8. Click on the Next button.
  4. You will now see a screen asking for the Installation type. At this screen select the As an application (No autostart) radio button and press the Next button. This way the backup software is not started every time you boot Windows. If you wish to have it start every time do not change any of the defaults. When ready to proceed click on Next button.
  5. The program will now install. When it has completed installing click on the Done button to finish the installation.

At this point you have successfully installed Cobian Backup. A small black half moon should now be showing in your taskbar at the bottom right of your screen near your time. This taskbar icon will look like this: black half moon

Now that the program has been installed, lets move on to learning how to use it.

Using “Cobian Backup” to backup and restore your data

To open Cobian Backup, you go to the black half moon icon located on your taskbar and right-click the icon. Then left-click on the Open option.

Before we can backup our data, it is a good idea to check the options. To do that, please click on the Tools menu and then select Options.

The program is pretty much pre-configured, but if you don’t want empty folders in your backups, you can select the Engine category on the left-hand-side menu and then from there put a check mark next to Delete empty folders. When done press the OK button to exit the Options screen.

We now need to create a new task to start the backup. To do this, you just need to click the clipboard icon which looks like this : create_task.

A window will now appear containing the general properties for your backup job. There are a couple of settings that should be configured. First you have to give your backup an easily identifiable name and enter it in the Task name field as shown in Figure 1 below. There is no right way in naming such files. Just use what best suites your needs and what is easiest to remember. In our example we will call it Backup 1 so we enter it into the Task name field.

Figure 1. Backup Task Properties

The area surrounded by the red rectangle defines what kind of backup you wish to make. Now you can see there is four different possibilities:

Backup Type
FULL This means that Cobian will copy or compress every single file that you specify to backup in the Source section of the Files category. By default this type of backup will create backup folders containing the time stamp of when the backup ran. This is also the setting used to create the first backup regardless of which Backup type you choose.
INCREMENTAL This is the feature you will most likely be using after creating your first backup instance. It checks if the source has changed from the last backup and only will backup those files that are new or have changed since the last backup. This saves a lot of time and space on your PC or the medium you will store your backup upon.
DIFFERENTIAL This setting works in the same way as incremental but instead compares the files from the last Full backup. If the current files are different compared to the last Full backup it will back them up.
DUMMY This setting does not actually back up any files but can be used to schedule the execution of programs, close services, reboot the computer, etc

For now, until you become more familiar with the program, we suggest you select the Incremental setting.

While still in the properties window click on the Archive option, as shown in Figure 2 below, which is located in the left-hand-side menu. This lets us set how we would like the backups archived. We have two options to choose, SQX or Zip. SQX provides better compression, thus saving storage space on your computer, but I still suggest Zip compression so that you can extract the files from a backup more easily. This is because most compression tools support ZIP compression and the latest versions of Windows (XP, 2003, Vista) have zip manipulation tools built into the operating system.

Note: When you chose to compress or encrypt your backup, you should always watch for this setting to be activated on your next backup session!

Figure 2: Backup Job Archive Settings

It is also possible to enter a comment, to protect your backup with a password, or to encrypt your backup. Each of these options are illustrated in Figure 2 above. To finish off our preparation, we need to select a source and a destination. The source is the files, directories, ftp site, etc that we want to backup. The destination is where the backup will be created. To start, lets choose the data we want to backup by clicking the Files option on the left-hand-side menu. This will present you with a screen similar to Figure 3 below:

get source
Figure 3. Select the data you want to backup.

To add data to be backed up you need to click on the Add button under the Source window. This will present you with 4 options. These options are described below.

Source Type
Files This will allow you to select individual files that you would like to backup.
Directory This will allow you to select directories that you would like to backup. If you add a directory as your source then all files and subdirectories underneath that directory will be backed up.
FTP Site This will allow you to backup files stored on a remote FTP site. If you select this option you will need to enter your FTP site login information in order for the program to access the files.
Manually This will allow you to type out the path to the files or directories you would like to backup.

In our example, we will manually select the directory we want to backup by clicking on the Add button under Source and then selecting Manually. At the window that pops up we type C:\ and press the OK button. You should now see the C:\ folder in your Source window. This job will now backup up everything on the C: drive.

Next we need to specify where to create the backup file. In our example we want to store the backups in our G:\ folder. So I click on the Add button under the Destination window and then click on Manually. I then type in G:\ and press the OK button. Once I click on the OK button, if the directory does not exist, it will be created.

Once we have selected all our settings for our backup job, we then press the OK button at the bottom of the properties window. This will bring us back to the main Cobian Backup screen and you will now see our new backup job listed on the left hand side of the screen as shown in Figure 4 below.

start backup
Figure 4: Backup Job Created

The above image shows the newly created task and the play-like button. You are now only one click away from starting your backup. To start it, you just need to click once on the backup job and then press the Play button as shown in Figure 4 above. Once you press OK a confirmation box will pop up asking if you would like to run the selected task. You also have the option of shutting down your computer when the backup job is completed. If you want to shutdown the computer put a check in this box. When you are ready to start the backup simply press the OK button.

Your backup will now start, and when completed, the backup will appear in the G:\ folder.


As you have seen in this tutorial, backing up your data can be done free of charge and in with little of your time. Having these backups on hand can save you a lot of trouble and stress when having power problems, infected machines, corrupt hard drives , or just when you need to reinstall the operating system. At the top of the page you will also find a companion video that summarizes the steps taken in this tutorial.


~ by bestbooter on June 23, 2009.

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