Today’s Question: I am interested in doing an incremental backup of my photo folders to two to three external drives in Windows 11. By incremental I mean only the changes that were made since the last backup. Am I correct in calling this type of backup incremental? Can this type of backup be accomplished in Windows 11 and if so, how?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, what you’re referring to is an incremental backup, and what I recommend is to create a synchronized backup using software such as GoodSync (https://timgrey.me/goodsync), which is available for both Windows and Macintosh.
More Detail: In my early days with computers an incremental backup could be a rather involved operation, and recovering from such a backup was an even bigger undertaking. To restore from an incremental backup the software would often need to rebuild from the backup based on the original backup plus all incremental updates. Back when it was common to back up a hard drive to a series of floppy disks, this could be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.
Fortunately, there are software tools available today that make the process much easier, especially when it comes to restoring from a backup. I recommend a synchronized approach, and I use and recommend GoodSync software (https://timgrey.me/goodsync) for this purpose.
With GoodSync the first backup can require considerable time since the entire contents of the source drive need to be copied to the backup drive. From that point forward, however, GoodSync will analyze the source and backup drives and update the backup with only what has changed since the last backup.
The result of using GoodSync is a backup that is an exact match of the original. For example, if the external hard drive that contains all my photos were to fail, I could simply connect the backup drive that had been updated by GoodSync and use it in place of the failed original. The only additional step at that point would be to change the drive letter of the backup drive to match the original on Windows, or to change the volume label to match the original on Macintosh.
I demonstrated the use of GoodSync for backing up photos in my GreyLearning Ultimate Event on “Backing Up Your Photos”. This event is included at no additional cost in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle, and you can learn more about the course here: