Personal Backup Version 5.9

© 2001 − 2018, Dr. J. Rathlev

Task settings

Click the Task settings tab to configure your backup task:

  Settings Destination Backup mode Compress Encryption Time compare VSS copy Verify Delete empty directories Delete files after backup Creation time Alternate data streams Document summary Permissions

Backup into separate files

Different arrangements for storing your backups are used at the destination. If a schedule has been configured as an automatic backup, depending on the cycle a directory named BDnn for a daily schedule or BWnn for a weekly schedule will be created above the directory structure described below.

Separate directories for drives (default)
In the destination directory, a subdirectory will be created for each source drive from which files are to be backed up. By default for fixed drives these are named DrvC, DrvD, DrvE, etc. If he or she wishes, the user can specify any other name (e.g. C drive). For backups of directories located in the network, the name of the particular share will be used for these subdirectories, while for backups of directories located on a removable drive, this will be the volume name. Each of these directories will contain the same directory structure as on the original drive.
Original full directory structure
The entire source directory structure is retained at the destination. Only directories on one particular drive can be backed up. If for example you specify X:\ as the destination, it will contain a 1:1 copy of the directory structure selected on the source drive E:\.
Separated by root directory
There will be a separate directory structure at the destination for each selected directory to be backed up (see here).
One directory without full path
The source path will not be replicated. All files and subdirectories copied from the source will be placed into a single destination path. Possible directory name conflicts will be checked for by the program.

Backup Modes

You can select four different backup modes:

Important notes:

The Full, Differential and Incremental modes are only available with backups into single files. The destination directory will always be deleted before backup. So they must be used in combination, for example as follows:

  1. On the first day, make a full backup to directory A.
  2. On subsequent days, make a differential or incremental backup to directories B, C, etc.
  3. To restore your data:
    1. Full + differential: restore the last differential backup (e.g. E) and the last full backup (A).
    2. Full + incremental: restore all incremental backups (e.g. E, D, C and B) in reverse order and the last full backup (A).
    Already-restored files must not be overwritten during this.

Restoring data from such an alternating schedule becomes very simple with the additional program PbRestore. Using this tool, you can automatically restore the latest version of each file relative to a given date.

To prevent loss of data when using the incremental or differential mode, the destination directory will be deleted only if the most recent backup did not occur on the same day.

Using the Automatic backup function of the program, you can use preconfigured scheduled backups. To perform such a backup using Windows task scheduler, you will have to create several backup tasks which differ in mode (e.g. Full and Differential) and destination directories. Let these tasks run at the desired times (e.g. Full on Monday, Differential on other days).

The "normal user" might prefer the Update mode to be sure that all current versions of all files will be backed up and are retained in the destination directory. Old files no longer existing at the origin will not be deleted from the destination unless the option synchronize is selected.

Time comparison

Settings for file comparison

Compare mode: How the comparison of timestamps will be applied to the backup can be selected:

Timestamp comparison: Comparing the timestamps of files is problematic when using different file systems (e.g. FAT32 and NTFS) at source and destination. The timestamps have the following characteristics:

To be system-independent, a default tolerance of 2 s on time comparison is used by the program. If necessary this tolerance can be adjusted by the user.
A further problem is that FAT systems use local time whereas the other systems use UTC, hence when backing up from an NTFS partition to a FAT32 partition, there will be time shifts after changing from normal to daylight saving time. On the first backup after a time change, all files would be copied even if they have not been modified because the local time would be one hour in front, which simulates a change. As a workaround, you can allow a difference of one hour plus tolerance.

Size comparison: There are some programs that do not set the timestamp after a file, for example a JPEG image, is modified. In this case the file size can be used as additional criteria. This only works on files which are copied unencrypted and (for example .jpg, .png, etc.) uncompressed.


Backup into zip files

Settings Zip file Backup mode Compress Encryption Verify Delete empty directories Delete files after backup VSS copy Zip name
All files into one zip archive
In the root directory of the destination drive, a single zip file (e.g. called will be created containing all files to be backed up retaining their original directory structure.
Separated by root directory
For each directory selected for backup, a separate zip file is created. Within this zip file, the original directory structure will be preserved. A placeholder for date and/or time can be added by clicking the button Platzhalter.
Source directory    Zip file Zip file using placeholder %date%
Separated by drive and subdirectory
At the destination, a subdirectory is created for each drive from which files are to be backed up: DrvC, DrvD, DrvE, etc. (see Separate directories for drives above). Below these, the original directory structure is preserved. A zip file (e.g. called is created in each of these subdirectories containing all files to be backed up from the particular directory.
Separated by subdirectory
As above, but without subdirectories to separate different source drives.

In all cases, a maximum size can be specified (e.g. 250 MB). This will cause the zip archives created during backup to be split into several files of the given size. You can select one of the predefined sizes or enter any other size value (at least 64 KiB) manually, eg. 500 MB. The unit suffixes used must follow the recommendations of the IEEE (see here)

Note: Bear in mind that zip files will always be created anew at the start of each backup operation. An already-existing zip file with the same name will be overwritten. There is no comparison of timestamps in this mode (see above under Update).
If the directories to be backed up reside on different drives, of the above methods only the following are allowed: Single files + Separate directories for drives or Zip files + Separated by drive and subdirectory. The other methods can produce ambiguous results, so if you wish to use these, you should configure separate backup tasks for each drive.

Placeholders for zip file names

Placeholders Placeholder

The name of a zip file may contain placeholders: to include these, click the Placeholder) button:

Using the archive bit for backups into zip files

As with single files (see here) you can also use the archive bit to decide if a file has to be backed up. If the checkbox Use archive bit is selected, only files having the archive bit set will be added to the zip file. Optional, the archive bit will be reset thereafter if the appropriate checkbox is selected.


Compressing files

To save space by default, compression with the zip algorithm is used by the program for backing up into single files. File created by using this method are compatible with all standard archive programs (e.g. WinZip and 7-zip) and can also be opened with Windows Explorer. Alternatively compression can be done into gz files.
Many file formats (such as pdf, docx and jpg) are themselves compressed. Further compressing these files saves no noteworthy disk space. Select which file types you do not want to be compressed in this task by clicking on the Compress button. This selection is also valid for compression into zip files. The default settings can be specified in the dialog called from Preferences ⇒ Copy ... in the main menu. If necessary (e.g. if you want to have a 1:1 copy of your data) the compression can be disabled completely by deselecting the check box Compress files.


Encrypting files

All files may be encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) method, the algorithms of which are known to be very secure (more information). You can use it on single files using a proprietary file format or on zip files with a WinZip-compatible file format.
zip encryption It is possible to specify a fixed password for the encryption. This will be stored as an encrypted string in the task file. For even higher security, you should not use this option but enter the password each time manually when starting the backup.

If using zip files as destination, the encryption depth is adjustable, otherwise it will be determined automatically:

Encryption of filenames

On backing up to zip archives, also filenames and directory names can optionally be encrypted. This will prevent an unauthorized person from deducing information about the contents either from the directory structure or the filenames after opening an archive.
Important note: Such an archive is not fully compatible with the WinZip format. It can still be opened with programs like WinZip or 7zip, but the original directory structure will not be displayed. Instead, all files and directories are marked with a sequential hex number. On backup, the real name will be encrypted and stored in an extra field within the local file header. To unpack this, the internal restore function or the add-on program PbRestore is required to recover the original directory structure. Single files can also be unpacked by applying the password using a program like WinZip or 7zip, but in this case the filename will not be recognizable.

Note: The setting of the encryption depth and the file format for uncompressed and gz-compressed files was changed in version 5.8.5. But restoring of files created by older versions will still be possible.

Using Volume Shadow copies

Since Windows XP it has been possible to create Volume Shadow copies enabling the user to backup on the fly also files that are locked by the system or an application.
Personal Backup supports this method optionally on backups since version 5.7. To benefit from this, the following conditions must be met:

Only if all these conditions are fulfilled, this option will be enabled and can be used for the backup.
Optionally (see preferences) during the creation of the Volume Shadow Copy a log can be written into the file PbVss.log which is located in the same directory as the ini file containing the program settings.
In addition, the Backup Components Document Contents will always be saved in XML format to the destination directory (refer to the information provided by Microsoft about VSS).

Note: The internal restore function of the program does not at present support this procedure. To restore system files, you need to boot e.g. from a CD with Windows PE to ensure that the installed system is not running.

Miscellaneous settings

Copy creation time

With the NTFS file system, each file has three timestamps for the date & time: Created, Modified and Accessed. By default, on backing up, the program always copies the date & time Modified. Checking the Select creation time option will also copy the date & time Created.

Copy alternate data streams

The NTFS file system has the capability to link additional data to a file, so called alternate data streams. These streams are hidden from the user in the Windows system. You will need a special utility program, such as Streams from the SysInternals package by Microsoft to examine alternate data streams.
After checking this option, any such alternate data streams will be backed up with each file.
Notes: This option is only available if both source and destination use the NTFS file system and when backing up into uncompressed single files. This option is not available under Windows XP.

Copy document summary

After right-clicking any file in Windows Explorer, under Properties you will find the Details tab. The information displayed depends from the particular file type. With Word documents, all global information for the document stored with the file are displayed and with JPEG images EXIF data is shown.
With NTFS file systems, there is another possibility for storing information in the file environment (document summary). This data is not part of the document and is not normally copied.
To include this, you can select the option Copy document summary. This option is, however, only available if the source and the destination uses the NTFS file system and when backing up into uncompressed and unencrypted single files. The FAT32 file system, often used on external drives or USB sticks, does not support this feature.
The user should check for himself whether this copy option is required. Normally it is not necessary either for MS Office documents or for JPEG images because all detail information is stored in the files itself. At the moment, no applications using this NTFS feature are known to the author.

Copy file permissions

In NTFS file systems and network shares, an access control list (ACL) that specifies the permissions for each user is associated with each file and directory. To view and change these permissions, right-click the object, select Properties from the menu and the Security tab.
If this option is set, the permissions associated with each file and directory will also be copied during backup if both source and destination support this.

Verify copied files

Check this option if you want the program to check the copied file for integrity. Depending on the backup mode, one of the following methods is used:

Important note: If this option is enabled, copying of files will be slowed down considerably. The Windows caching must be disabled in this case to ensure that the file is stored completely on the destination data medium before the verification will take place.
Generally it is not necessary to use this option because the security measures applied by the system are quite enough.

Delete empty directories at destination

After backup, the destination will be checked for empty directories. If this option box is checked (default), they will be deleted.

Delete source files after backup

This option will delete source files after a successful backup (Verify copied files is switched on by default). You will need this option only in exceptional cases: since the source files are deleted, be very careful before choosing it!

J. Rathlev, 24222 Schwentinental, Germany, April 2018