You've received very good advice from the members here.
I posted in another thread in a reply to another member that was asking about backups. The thread link is here .
After reading your post regarding frequently-edited items, Word, Excel files, it's familiar with how I backup a few of my "must-have" items. Your item locations are more complex, multiple locations, etc, but as mentioned by other members here, there are some good programs available that can backup user-specific items daily or multiple times daily.
I'm using "Acronis" (2011 version) to do this but I also have a "copy" script that I wrote which will copy my specific items in a "semi-auto" mode. The script will copy the files without manually dragging/dropping or copy/paste methods.
My advice regarding backups in general:
- Redundancy. Kilroy's 3-2-1 post is a great way to do that. For me, I focus on full-HDD backup tools since that provides a fast way to recover from virtually all situations. To insure that I have more than 1 HDD backup path, I use cloning and imaging on my PC's.
- Backup to an external device (USB portable HDD, etc) that remains disconnected from your PC except during the actual backup process. That way, you'll have copies of your "can't-lose" items isolated from your PC in the event of an incident of malware-encryption ("Cryptolocker" or its variants).
- Run unattended backups of your specific items. That requires a continuously-connected external HDD which is vulnerable to encryption ransomware but you'll have redundant copies available that's isolated from the infected PC is that occurs.
- Verify any HDD backup methods. I do that by occasionally testing my cloned (or full-HDD image recovery) HDD by installing it and booting up on it. That way, I know I have a complete working bootable recovery method.
I used to test my cloned (or image-recovered) HDD's each time but the processes are very reliable so now I usually verify 1 in 4 HDD's.
Since I began cloning periodically about 3 years ago, I've never encountered any cloned HDD that didn't boot up and run without problems.
- Have a 2nd HDD backup tool available, one that you've tested, just in case your primary HDD backup tool develops an unforeseen problem.
I have 3 tools: Acronis, Macrium Reflect, and Clonezilla. I rarely use Clonezilla and only made the CD to see how it compares with my 2 main tools. It worked ok but I'd not recommend Clonezilla for most PC users as it's geared primarily toward more advanced users. I'm not one of those but I wanted to test it out. I've run a couple of clone processes with it but its slower than Acronis.
Regarding full-HDD incrementals, I also agree with Kilroy and Wolverine 7 . There are many that prefer the incremental or differential methods and there are good reasons for it but I'd rather use other methods.
One reason that I don't use incremental chains for full-HDD backups is that, if one backup in the chain is corrupt, the entire chain is rendered unrecoverable. Those odds are probably negligible but I prefer cloning every couple of weeks.
wpgwpg mentioned his backup time. That's fast . I'm cloning with my Desktop Tower SATA III speeds so that allows for a fast HDD cloning time. It takes 10 minutes to clone my C HDD with Acronis and about 25 minutes with Macrium.
Wolverine 7's "backup" folder idea is a good one . I might switch to that method soon.