© 2001 - , Dr. Jürgen Rathlev
The program runs on 32-bit and 64-bit systems (see more).
Special note on Windows 11: Occasionally, problems are reported when starting the 64-bit version of the program under Windows 11. The cause remains unclear and seems to be limited to early builds of the pre-release version. In this case it is recommended to use the 32-bit version of Personal Backup which does not have this problem.
Installation: Under these operating systems, the rights of an administrator
are required. It is recommended to use the executable setup (pb-setup-6.v.xxxx.exe) to
install or update Personal Backup.
This will ensure that there are no restrictions on running the program.
Basically, the automatic backups on logoff or on shutdown will also work on the above systems (additional notes).
Note: Since Windows 8 the status window showing the backup progress is not visible in this case.
On a 32-bit system you will definitely need the 32-bit version.
On a 64-bit system you have the choice: both the 32-bit and the 64-bit version will work with just one exception: if Volume Shadow Copies are to be used, the Personal Backup installation must match the system (see more).
If the backup program is to be installed as portable, for example to be run from a USB stick, the 32-bit version is always recommended because of its ability to run on either system (see more).
Although it has long been recommended that Windows XP and Vista no longer be used, there are still users who work with these operating systems. The current version of Personal Backup is still compatible but has some limitations:
From time to time it happens that parts of the program package are classified as
malware by particular virus scanners or the installation is blocked for other reasons.
So far, these have always been false alarms.
All programs offered for download on this site are compiled by myself and then checked with a virus scanner which is updated several times a day. In addition, when uploading to the download area a check is made by my web provider. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can check the integrity of these files yourself at Virus-Total.
Many users do not know which backup settings are best for their purposes. If you are not an experienced user, you should accept the default settings of the program on creating a new backup. Using the wizard for new backup tasks will make this very easy.
It is recommended that a root directory (e.g. G:\) is never used as the destination directory, but rather an existing subdirectory or a new directory to be created automatically by the program (e.g. G:\Backup). Doing this will avoid the many problems arising from the restricted access permissions specified by Windows for root directories and the system directories (System Volume Information and $recycle.bin) always found there.
Using the default settings, the backup will be carried out in the
Update mode using the method
Separate files -
Separate directories for drives. The original directory structure will
be retained beneath the backup directory. Compression
of files using the gzip or zip algorithm will save space
on the destination drive, but users can deselect this option if they wish prefer to save
exact copies of all backed-up files. In addition the files can be
encrypted using the AES algorithm.
Using this mode ensures that no files are deleted at the destination (unless you selected the Synchronize option). Only those files will be overwritten that have a newer timestamp at source. In addition, all new files will of course be backed up. In this way the backup directory will always contain the current version of all files from the selected source directory and all its subdirectories.
The integrated Restore function of the program can be used to restore your data.
The modes Full, Differential and Incremental should only be used by experienced users if they want to implement a special backup strategy. In each case the destination directory is cleared before backup. Restore is only possible with a combination of full and differential or full and incremental backups.
There are two options for saving data as zip archives:
Zipped backup files must always be written anew, so this option is not suited to a daily backup of large amounts of data. It is more appropriate for small amounts of data (e.g. special projects). Many programs (including Windows Explorer) can read and unpack these files. To document the various stages of a project, you can use one of the optional placeholders as part of the filename.
There are four different backup modes:
The Differential and Incremental modes should always be used in combination with a Full backup to perform specific backup strategies. You can find a comprehensive explanation on Wikipedia. A simple example:
On an automatic backup you can run program controlled schedules of this kind.
For some time, over and over again items are published reporting malware (so-called Ransomware) that maliciously encrypts a user's data and demands a ransom in return for the decryption key. Unfortunately a simple backup is not capable of preventing such attacks because it too can be maliciously encrypted and hence cannot be used to restore the data.
I have compiled some tips on how to protect a backup created by Personal Backup (see here).
If suddenly a backup task cannot be saved anymore (Error message: Error saving task ...), in most cases the reason is an installed program for malware detection. Known programs are Bitdefender Security and the Windows Defender (since the Fall Creators Update). To prevent the user from possible injuries by ransomware, all programs without a digital signature (Personal Backup belongs to this group because it is provided as freeware) will not be allowed to write to particular folders (such as the user's documents folder). As workaround, the user can define exceptions for applications he will trust. How to do this in Windows Defender, is described here
Since version 5.7 Personal Backup supports the possibility of using Volume Shadow Copies (VSS) for backup. To use this option, the following conditions have to be fulfilled:
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
to ensure that the installed system is not running.
It does not make sense to use Volume Shadow Copies with Personal Backup for a complete system backup (see the following section).
The intended purpose of the program is to backup personal data such as documents, spreadsheets, images, etc., the loss of which can have a serious impact since the data is either impossible to recreate or can be achieved only after extremely time-consuming labor.
On the other hand, the operating system and applications in use can always be reinstalled from their original sources and while this will take some time, it is at least possible (the better way for fast recovery is to use an imaging tool, see below). In addition, it is recommended you store the personal data not on the system drive C: (as provided for by Windows) but on a different partition on a separate drive. (further information).
Saving this data with Personal Backup does not make sense
because a restore will not produce a runnable system. Moreover a daily backup of the
system is not necessary (in contrast to personal data). The fastest way to
recover after a system crash is to restore the whole partition previously saved
with an imaging tool. This should be done from time to time, e.g. after a system
update or the installation of a major piece of software. Apart from some commercial programs,
freeware versions for personal use are available from
Paragon: Backup & Recovery Free Edition and Macrium: Macrium Reflect 7 Free Edition
Since Windows XP the possibility of using Volume Shadow Copies is available under NTFS to back up even locked files directly. How this can be applied with Personal Backup is described here.
As described before, the intended purpose of the program is to backup personal data such as documents, spreadsheets, images, etc. The question is which directories should be selected for backup. The wizard for creating a new backup task gives a preselection of the most important directories. Some additional information can be found in the following summary:
|Default user directories||Windows 7, 8, 10 location|
|This directory should be backed up in all cases.|
|These directories should be backed up if the user has stored files at these locations.|
|Backing up this directory is not essential because the files stored at this location can be downloaded again at any time.|
|This directory should be backed up in all cases. Many applications, such as Firefox, Thunderbird, Personal Backup, store their settings and data at this location.|
|It is not necessary to backup this directory because mainly temporary files
are stored here. The only exception is if an older Outlook version (until 2010)
or a newer as an upate of this is in use. In this case, you should backup the folder
Note: Since Outlook 2013 the mail data are located in C:\users\<username>\ADocuments\Outlook Files
|It is essential to backup only those subdirectories used to store important data belonging to applications such as StarMoney.|
In addition, every user should carefully check whether important data is still stored in other places. Unfortunately, depending on the installed applications, this is not always consistent and sometimes difficult to find.
Although the following notes refer to backing up VeraCrypt containers they can be applied also to TrueCrypt of which VeraCrypt is a fork. Development of TrueCrypt was discontinued in 2014 but extensive compatibilities and similarities exist between the two programs.
After connecting a smartphone using the Android operating system to your PC via USB
you can access its files using Windows Explorer, but backing up these files
using programs such as Personal Backup is not possible. The reason for this
is that the Media Transport Protocol (MTP) used to connect the smartphone
is only integrated within the Windows Shell used by Explorer. Devices connected
in this way are not integrated into the Windows file system so that programs like
Personal Backup cannot access them.
There are two ways to overcome this problem:
An article on MTP is available at Wikipedia.
When using such drives it can happen that the system does not always assign
the same drive letter. To backup data always to the same medium independently
of the drive letter, you can use the volume name of the removable media
(:<volumename>:) instead. Go to Windows Start,
Computer or Workplace, right click on the drive and select Properties
to define or view the volume name.
Assign the name Backup-1 to the external drive.
Enter :Backup-1:\Backup instead of K:\Backup in Personal Backup
To disconnect the external drive automatically after backup, use the "External programs" function to start a small batch file which calls the utility program RemoveDrive.Sample script:
rem remove external drive (RemoveDrive.bat) RemoveDrive "Backup-1"
The destination directory may be located on any network device or computer. There are various ways to connect:
Since Windows 10 version 1709 the SMB 1.0/CIFS support is no longer installed by default.
As a result of this, all network resources bound as SMB 1.0 (for example on
several older servers and NAS systems) are not displayed when selecting a backup
destination. To reactivate this function do the following:
Control Panel -> Programs and features -> Turn Windows features on ...
Check the option:
SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support -> SMB 1.0/CIFS client
After restarting Windows, network paths should be displayed again (more information).
If even newer Windows servers that support SMB 2/3 are not displayed in the network environment, the required services are not active there. You have to log on to the server as an administrator and open the Services-Administration. There you can change the settings for the two services Function Discovery Provider Host and Function Discovery Resource Publication) to Automatic (Delayed Start) and start the services - if necessary (more information).
Before backing up files to an FTP server, you should be aware of the following:
If at least one automatic task (time-triggered or on logon/logoff) is active, the program adds a shortcut to the startup folder of the Windows start menu to be started automatically on next user logon. If this no longer works, the cause is often a third-party program installed by the user for monitoring or optimization (e.g. Ccleaner or Norton Utilities) that disables entries in the Startup folder without being asked. You can check this using the Windows Task Manager. Go to the Startup page and select the Personal Backup entry. Clicking the button at the lower right will activate the automatic start again. It is possible that an additional setting must be made in the third-party program, so that the automatic start is not deactivated again from there.
During backups to an FTP server using a secure connection (FTPS) in passive mode, sometimes unexpected connection dropouts will happen. The reason is very often a misconfigured Windows firewall. To fix this, enter the following command line as administrator in the Windows prompt:
netsh advfirewall set global statefulftp disableYou will find more information about this issue at StackExchange
With some FTP servers or firewalls it can happen that during lengthy data transfers the control channel will be closed due to inactivity. To prevent from this issue, enable the option in the Advanced FTP settings to let the system periodically send a small keep-alive data packet (More information).
Since Version 5.0.5, a monitor
has been incorporated to prevent the program
from hanging (e.g. if the network connection is lost). If while copying files
there is no response for a specified time (default: 30s), the process will be
canceled. The timeout is adjustable for each task in
More options ⇒ Miscellaneous.
Setting it to zero disables monitoring.
The preset time is chosen so long that this problem normally never occurs. However, if this is the case more often, you should get to the bottom of it. Possible causes are e.g. faulty network connections, USB drivers that do not function properly or also a wrong setting for Microsoft OneDrive (see here)
When backing up files located on a Microsoft OneDrive server, it is necessary to disable the Files On-demand option. Otherwise the files will not be mounted to the local file system and thus not found during backup.
While backing up files, also their attributes (such as read only or hidden) will be backed up to the original values at the destination. Doing this anew on every backup even for files that have not changed (see the warnings in the backup lo), indicates that attribute setting is not working at the destination. Very often, this is the case on NAS systems because most of them use Linux internally and Linux does not support Windows file attributes natively. This function must therefore be emulated: some systems offer an appropriate setting. If your NAS does not support this, you can disable the copying of attributes during backup (see more).
After a file has been successfully copied, its timestamp (date and time of
last change) will be set to the value of the original file. If this
does not happen, a warning will appear in the log file. This is only an
indication of a problem, in that the actual backup of the file nevertheless
When backing up to a local or Windows network drive, this warning points to a problem in the destination directory (e.g. lack of administration rights) that should be investigated. Should this warning appear when backing up via FTP, the cause will probably be due to the fact that some FTP servers in principle offer no way to set the timestamp. In this case the warning can be ignored.
There are several methods to start a backup on logoff:
After updating to Windows 10 (1903), an issue has arisen affecting a backup to be performed
on shutdown. The backup starts and the appropriate message is displayed on the screen.
One minute later Windows enables the lock screen. The backup continues in an orderly manner
until its end but the computer will not be shut down automatically afterwards.
The user must unlock the screen and initiate the shutdown manually again.
This behavior is due to changes in the Windows system, but despite an intensive search (e.g. registry and group policies), I could not find a way how to disable the automatic lock screen. Perhaps there is a new not-yet-documented Windows setting.
You must select the option Power off in the
Program Preferences. The option
Allow hybrid sleep will not work.
Important note: All users, already using this setting, but made this with a former version of Personal Backup, must open the Preferences dialog once and close it using the OK button. This will perform the modification required for current Windows 10 (requires Version 6).
If the backup does not start or is canceled by the system when logging off or
shutting down the computer, the
reason is usually an incorrect Windows setting. The registry key
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\AutoEndTasks determines whether
running processes end automatically or not (see the
information from Microsoft).
This value must be "0" to allow a backup. If this value does not exist, it must be
created manually: search for HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
and right-click on the right window to create a new string value AutoEndTasks and
then set the value by double-clicking to "0".
If the program XP-Antispy is installed, the value can also be changed from there: switch off the option Activate fast shutdown.
Another possible reason can be an installed System Optimizer like Norton Utilities 16.
More information: A more detailed description will be found in the program documentation.
If a backup is started on logoff or shutdown using the
Auto Backup function,
it is often not possible to execute
The reason is probably that at this point the Windows system
is already in shutdown mode (shaded screen) and preventing the start of any program.
If the error code "66" is reported this means that the system error code 0xc0000142
(The application was unable to start correctly) was returned.
However one of the following workarounds can be used:
When performing a backup on shutting the computer down, it may be that the PC
does not restart or does no power off.
The reason is that the Windows API function that notifies all programs before shut down (See "WM_QUERYENDSESSION" in Windows SDK) says nothing about the intended action (shut down or restart).
In this case you should not use the Windows start button to restart, but instead the functions in the context menu called by right-clicking the icon in the Windows notification area.
To tell Personal Backup permanently what to do after backing up, select this in the main menu Preferences ⇒ Shutdown.
If you wish to switch to hibernate mode instead of logging off or
shutting down the computer (see here) but wish to initiate
a backup immediately beforehand, you can achieve this as follows:
Create a Desktop shortcut to Personal Backup to start one or several tasks and select Hibernate as the subsequent action. Configuring of automatic backups is not required in this case.
Now, when you wish to switch the computer to hibernate mode, double-click the desktop icon. First, the backups will start and then the computer will subsequently hibernate.
On starting the program, the first directory of a backup task will normally be
scanned for new files. If for example this is a whole partition, it can take a
very long time.
There are two ways to get around this:
After double-clicking the program's Desktop icon or the file PersBackup.exe
in Windows Explorer nothing happens or a security warning is displayed.
The reason for this issue may be found in
the Windows security settings. To check, right-click the exe file in
Windows Explorer and select Properties. If a Security section
in the lower part of the window is displayed indicating "This file came from another
computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer", you must click
on Unblock to overcome this restriction.
Thereafter, you should be able to start Personal Backup as usual.
Background information: When downloading a file, e.g. from the Internet, Windows stores security information (a Zone identifier) specifying from which security zone the file came. This information is stored as an Alternate data stream (only available under NTFS).
Sometimes it happens that the program window is not displayed after start. Only
the taskbar symbol appears in which also after clicking this symbol the main window
will remain unvisible. A possible reason for this issue can be a position outside
the screen caused by an accidental mouse move.
When this issue arises, first of all you have to terminate the program, in case of need using the Windows Task Manager. Then you can try to start the program from the command prompt using the option /reset (see here).
If this does not work, you should delete or rename the ini file (see here). Thereby however all settings for automatic tasks will be lost and must be entered manually afterwards.
It is possible to configure Personal Backup in such a way that it can be started from a USB stick or drive without leaving traces on the host PC. Copy all files from the program directory (usually C:\Program Files\Personal Backup 5) or the downloadable zip archive to a directory on the USB drive (e.g. K:\PersBack) and use the command line option /portable which automatically redirects the ini file for the program settings, as well as the paths for task and log files to the USB stick. The program is then called as follows:
For special needs, these settings can also be made individually via the command line. Use the options /ini:[Filename], /taskdir:[Directory] and optional /logdir:[Directory] to start the program. The options set the program to use an ini and cfg file (for default location see here) and a task directory on the USB drive. Filename must contain a full path (e.g. \PersBack\pb.ini or K:\PersBack\pb.ini). Additionally you can specify a special directory for the log files. Otherwise the logs will be written to the directory where the ini file is located.
Then, using a text editor, create a batch file (e.g. startpb.cmd) in the root directory of the USB drive (e.g. K:\) with the following lines:
@echo off echo Start Personal Backup from USB flash drive start PersBack\PersBackup.exe /ini:%%progpath%%\pb.ini /taskdir:%%progpath%%\ /logdir:%%progpath%%\logs
The task files and the ini file created by the program all are located in the
directory K:\PersBack as specified by the placeholder %progpath%).
Start the program from the USB drive using this batch file and configure and save your backup task. To use a backup target directory on the USB drive itself, omit the the drive letter from the destination path (e.g. \Backup) or use the volume name of the USB drive (see here). The latter will also work if the destination path is on another external drive. In doing so, you avoid problems arising from assigning different drive letters by the system.
There is a simple way to start a backup automatically immediately after a USB medium is connected to the computer. For this you need the program AutoRunner. The exact procedure is described here.
Since Windows 7, there has been a new version of the Task Scheduler. In addition
to the features of the former version some new options became available, such as
running a backup after a missed scheduled start or the use of user accounts
From Personal Backup 5.9 this new version of the Windows Task Scheduler is supported in the integrated wizard. As a result, the wizard is no longer available on systems running Windows XP.
Progress window: If you want to have a progress indicator on the screen after starting a backup from the Task Scheduler, you must select the option Run only when user is logged on under the General tab in the settings for the Task Scheduler. Otherwise the program will not run interactively, which means that any Desktop output is suppressed. You will find more information about this at Microsoft Technet.
Run task as different user: This user must be member of the Windows group Backup Operators with the right to Log on as a batch job (more information from Microsoft).
For backing up as separate files, by default, compression using the zip algorithm (zip extension)
is used by the program. Alternatively, the the gzip algorithm (see RFC1952) can be selected
for compression (gz extension).
Both methods are compatible with all standard archive programs (e.g. WinZip and 7Zip,
But only zip archives can be opened with native Windows tools, like Windows explorer.
Many file formats (such as PDF, MP3 and JPG) are themselves compressed. Further compressing these files saves no disk space but costs more time. For this reason such file types can be excluded from compression. By default, the following file types will not be compressed:
This list can be edited by the user for his own requirements.
This problem can be avoided by not using the integrated function Backup on logoff, but instead using a logoff (or shutdown) script. Create the following script and set the Windows policy for logoff (administrator rights are required):
Notes: To use a shutdown script instead, select the section
Computer configuration in the Group Policy Editor. This requires at least
Personal Backup version 5.2.
If the backup takes a very long time, it may be that it is cancelled by the system (default: 10 min). You can control this behaviour by changing a registry key (more).
Files are encrypted using the AES algorithm, with the same routines as in WinZip (Info at WinZip and at Brian Gladman). The file format created depends on the backup mode. Further information about this you will find in the program documentation.
If the backup target is inside a Windows directory (local,
external or network) you can use the internal Restore function
for unpacking. This works also with encrypted gz and zip files.
If you you just want to restore a few single files or directories, use of the additional Program PbRestore (in the Windows start menu under Personal Backup - Restore files) is recommended.
If the backup is on an FTP server, it is not possible to unpack gz and zip files directly. You have to copy them first into a local temporary directory using the internal Restore function or any FTP client (e.g. FileZilla). Then you can use the internal Restore function (see above) to unpack them to their final destination.
In a zip archive, first of all the compressed files are saved with a header and checksum in the destination file followed by a directory with pointers the start of each file. See PkWare for more details.
If the directory is corrupted or missing, the zip archive can then no longer be read by many programs, although the data itself may still be intact. Some archive programs (e.g. iZArc) provide tools to repair such files.
To be able at least partially to restore data from corrupted zip archives created with Personal Backup, you can use the following program:
The easiest way to start Personal Backup as a service is to use the Windows
Task Scheduler. You can configure many different backup tasks to start at different times
(e.g. on particular days of the week).
Process the following steps:
The program is installed using Inno Setup by Jordan Russell. To run an unattended installation, the parameters /silent or /verysilent can be used. If you do not want to start Personal Backup immediately after the installation, add the parameter /norun to the setup command line.
All program settings including the configuration of automatic backup tasks
are saved in an ini file (Persbackup.ini). This is a text file and can be read
with any text editor. Editing this file is, however, not recommended.
The ini file and the standard log file (Persbackup.log) are located in the user's application data directory. You will find this at the following locations:
Note: By default this directory is hidden. To make it visible, change the Windows Explorer setting via Tools ⇒ Folder Options ⇒ View ⇒ Show hidden files and folders.
Thunderbird (unlike Outlook) is very user-friendly. All files can be backed up even if Thunderbird is running. There is however just one locked file created by Thunderbird on starting (parent.lock) but this is empty and is deleted automatically on closing Thunderbird. The file must not be backed up and should be excluded from backup using an appropriate file filter (All not matching - parent.lock).
The easiest way to save Thunderbird mail data is to use the additional program TbBackup which makes all required settings automatically.
Files used by Outlook and Skype are locked for other applications. Backing up these files requires one of the additional actions described below.
Using the function
Execute external programs:
before backing up, a script is run to stop Outlook and/or Skype and another script run to
restart the applications as soon as the backup is completed.
The following sample scripts for Outlook can be modified for other applications. For this purpose, first of all you must find out the running processes which are blocking the files to be backed up. A very useful tool to do this is the Process Explorer from the SysInternals package by Microsoft. To create and edit the scripts you need a simple text editor such as Notepad. Save the scripts at an appropriate location using the proposed names. Open the backup task, click the Settings button at Other options ⇒ External programs and insert the following command lines:
Before backup: %sysdir%\cscript.exe "<path>\StopOutlook.vbs"
After backup: %sysdir%\cscript.exe "<path>\StartOutlook.vbs"
and select the checkboxes.
' VB Script Document option explicit dim oWmi, sWmiO, oQResult, oProcess, WshShell, iRet ' Terminate Outlook Set oWmi = GetObject("winmgmts:") sWmio = "select * from Win32_Process where name='outlook.exe'" Set oQResult = oWmi.Execquery(sWmio) For Each oProcess In oQResult iRet = oProcess.Terminate(1) Next Set oWmi = Nothing WScript.Sleep 100
' VB Script Document option explicit dim WshShell ' Start Outlook Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell") ' The following line depends on the installed Office version WshShell.Run """%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office14\Outlook.exe""", 9
The scripts for Skype and other applications look quite similar and can be combined with those for Outlook. Some sample scripts (including Skype for Business) are available for download:
The Windows API functions used until Version 4 of this program restrict the path
length (directory + filename) to 260 characters (see Windows SDK). Even Windows
Explorer in XP has this limitation.
Personal Backup version 5 now allows longer paths, because it was built with a Delphi development system which has Unicode support. So it is possible to use the wide-string Windows system functions which allow path lengths up to 32,000 characters.
With Version 4 you can use a workaround using the command "Subst":
The files to be backed up are located in the directory C:\Dir1\..\Dir2\Dir3\..\Dir4. The whole path (directory + filename) exceeds 260 characters.
To split the path, type at the DOS prompt:
subst X: C:\Dir1\..\Dir2Now you have a new (virtual) drive X: with the subdirectory Dir3\... Add this to your backup task.
subst X: /d
To automate this procedure, start the following batch files before and after backup using the integrated function to execute external programs: SplitDir.cmd:
rem Split directory path and substitute with drive subst X: %1UnsplitDir.cmd:
rem release substitution subst X: /dExecute before Backup:
SplitDir.cmd C:\Dir1\..\Dir2Execute after Backup:
Personal Backup Version 5 does not work under Windows 98. Users using this operating system must use Version 4.5!