Update: As of 2017, the primary place that all data, Igor files, presentations etc should be stored is on the network drive, which is backed up daily by IT support. If you only use the network folder you never have to worry about setting up backups. You can access the server drive from off campus using the UNSW VPN and your zID.

If you want to make folders available offline, or on a slower internet link, use the sync options below to keep your data in sync with a local copy on your PC.

You should also back up PC regularly in case of hard drive failures. And check that your backups work.

Below are a couple of simple options to do this.

Windows Offline Folders

In Windows you can simply right click a folder on the network share and select "Always available offline" (Windows 7). Then Windows will keep a copy of the files in a cache on your laptop, so that you can easily use files on the server when you are at home or offline. Any changes will be automatically synchronised in the background when you reconnect to the internet. Use the "Sync Center" to check that everything is working smoothly.

For windows 10 see

Total Commander

Use Total Commander ( to synchronize between your data folders on your local machine and the network share N: .


Robocopy is a Microsoft command that can be used to synchronise folders in different places, or simply make a mirror copy of your "My Documents" folder onto a folder on the network "gqed/user/backup of my desktop".



Still today, and going back to pre-Windows MS-DOS days to around 1990, I have always used simple XCOPY (and before XCOPY existed, a similar shareware utility maybe copied by Microsoft). I never use compressed files nor esoteric programs with potential bugs. Just proven and simple XCOPY. XCOPY is still my primary program.

For myself and my past customers, first of all, I put all original data onto a separate partition of the hard disk such as D: or a network drive. Then just XCOPY all of D: to your other disk (external hard disk or over your LAN) such as from D: to N: or whatever, and not copy your operating system and installed programs.

XCOPY is a DOS program which has been with DOS and Windows since around 1990. It is extremely reliable, bug free and simple. It simply copies files. Nothing fancy.

The xcopy batch file

I do the XCOPY by a batch file with something like this, whereby only the first line is all you need:

xcopy d:\*.* n:\username\backup /m /s /c /i /y /h /r
if errorlevel 1 goto errors
@echo There were no errors.
goto end
@echo There was at least one error. Maybe rerun it and sit and watch it this time, or report it to your techie.
@echo Program finished.

The /m means copy only modified and new files, /s means all subdirectories, and the rest are just to keep it simple and be complete. The Z: drive is just my example, and you can specify whatever drive you wish. If you plug in your external hard disk and it's drive F: then substitute F: for N:

The second and lower lines have nothing to do with the backup, and are optional. They only report what happens. The "pause" command is important so you can see the result, to show you any errors or that it was complete. Otherwise, the window will automatically close itself upon completion and you won't see the final result.

This batch process can be just be put into a .BAT or .CMD file and a shortcut icon put onto the desktop. I do this for novice staff who keep some data on their workstation. They don't see the commands. They only see an icon on the desktop and click on it. In the end, they just look to see if there were any errors. (You must keep things as simple, quick & easy as possible for most people. I also have a way of reporting errors automatically to the techie, but that's beyond the scope of this article.)

Disadvantages to this XCOPY method:

If you move files and folders on your data drive, then you get duplicates on your backup. Also, if you delete or rename files, you still have the old one on your backup hard disk. This is why the XCOPY backup is not my only backup, but only my "extra" backup.

Backup for Mac users using rsync command

Here is an easy command line method for backing mac systems to the gqed server. This method allows you to have all relevant data on your local machine and run backups onto the server.

Rsync is faster than drag and drop as it only transfers files that have changed. Please make sure you understand what you are doing before you run this (practice with dummy directory first).

Example of Method for rsync

Correct procedure for updating local files:

1 - in command line type ‘ rsync -avzn - delete ‘

2 - Drag and drop the folder from the n-drive you want to update

3 - Drag and drop the folder on local machine. Press enter

This will run a test (thanks to the n variable). Read through the list of sync, and deleted files to make sure nothing important is deleted on the local machine and that all new things are synced.

4 - Repeat step 1 without the n option ‘ rsync -avz ‘.

rsync -avz /Volumes/gqed/ScottLiles/Analysis\ For\ paper /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles

This will sync the first folder (/Volumes/gqed/ScottLiles/Analysis\ For\ paper) into the selected local folder (/Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles). If the Destination does not have a correspondingly named folder, it will create one. If the directory Sync_ScottLiles alread has a folder names Analysis for paper, then it will correctly sync the files, updating only new ones.

If you want to delete any files in the desitination that do not exist in the source add - delete option eg 'rsync -avz -delete'. Always run -avzn -delete first though. The 'n' does a test run, and lets you see what will be deleted.

Correct Procedure for syncing local files onto server.

1 - Type rsync -avzn

2 - Drag the entire local folder onto the command line. ( it will read rsync -avzn /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles )

3 - add a forward slash after the file name (rsync -avzn /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles/ ). Otherwise it will create a folder called Sync_ScottLiles, then download ALL data into that 'new' folder.

3 - Drag the entire Server folder onto the command line (eg /Volumes/gqed/ScottLiles). Press enter

This will run a test. Make sure that important files are synced, and the computer doesn’t try to upload unchanged things. DO NOT run -delete unless you really know what you are doing.

rsync -avzn /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles/ /Volumes/gqed/ScottLiles

4 - If everything looks ok, run again without the n (you can also exclude the v, since you have already found out what the output will be)

rsync -avz /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles/ /Volumes/gqed/ScottLiles

Some usefull rsync options

Just typing rsync into command line will return all the options. Here are some useful ones:

Transfer only folders and no files (this mirrors the directory structure).

rsync -arv --include='*/' --exclude='*' /Volumes/researchgroups/gqed/ScottLiles/Presentations /Users/z3374162/Desktop/Sync_ScottLiles/

rsync -arv -d Should also do the same thing


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Topic revision: r5 - 19 Jul 2017, AlexHamilton
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