Backup Modified Files
User Manual

  1. Specifying the Files to be Backed Up
  2. Specifying Where the Files are to be
    Backed Up To
  3. Saving and Loading Setup Files
  4. The Backup Operations
  5. The Deletion Operation
  6. The Report File
  7. Multiple Backup Operations
  8. Restoring Files
  1. Scheduling a Backup Operation
    using Task Scheduler
  2. Running the Program using Task Scheduler
    without User Supervision
  3. Auto-Shutdown on Completion

1. Specifying the Files to be Backed Up

source folder selectionFiles to be backed up are specified as the files in a particular folder (which may be the root, or top-level, folder) plus files in selected subfolders. Click on the 'Source disk or folder' button to select the source folder. The image at left shows selection of a lower-level folder, 'Calendars'.

If you only wish to back up the files in this folder (not in subfolders) then go on to the next section.

If you wish to back up files in one or more subfolders then click on the 'Select included subfolders' button and check the subfolders to be included in the backup.

If you wish to include all subfolders of these subfolders then check the checkbox:

If backing up a laptop to an external hard disk then it is advisable to exclude the Windows folder and the Program files folder (and the Documents and Settings folder), unless you are sure that you want to back up the very many files in these folders (and their subfolders).

If you don't wish to back up the files in the source folder itself, but only files in subfolders, then check the 'Exclude files in source folder' box.

A file is identified by a filepath, which is the name of the file preceded by the name of the folder containing it, preceded by the name of the folder containing that folder, and so on, up to the root folder. For example, if folder _websites is in the root folder of Drive C:, and contains a subfolder example which contains a subfolder bak which contains a file file.txt then the filepath for that file is C:\_websites\example\bak\file.txt.

Backup Modified Files allows you to exclude files whose filepaths contain a given character string, which may be a substring either of a folder name in the filepath or a substring of the file name. This allows you to exclude files in several subfolders, e.g., files whose names include Copy. It also allows you to exclude subfolders of non-excluded subfolders of the top folder, e.g., if you have some deeply-nested subfolders named bak which contain backups of files in immediately higher subfolders. These character strings must be separated by commas, may contain spaces and are not case-sensitive.

2. Specifying Where the Files are to be Backed Up To

The target folder is the folder to which the files in the source folder (and included subfolders) will be copied.

Specify the target folder by clicking on the 'Target disk or folder' button, similar to the selection of the source folder.

If your desired target folder does not exist on the backup device then you have two choices: (i) You can create it using Windows Explorer in the usual way or (ii) you can select some existing folder on the target device as the target folder (in which case the 'Create subfolder' button will be enabled) and create the subfolder using this program.

create subfolder

If the default subfolder name is not what you want then enter the desired subfolder name.

The target folder must not contain the source folder. It is possible, however, for the target folder to be a subfolder of the source folder.

Several options are available which affect how the backup is carried out and how the report is produced (example shown at left).

After specifying a setup you may wish to save it for the next run or save it in a setup file.

3. Saving and Loading Setup Files

As stated at the beginning, this software is intended for regular backup of multiple sets of files, and this is accomplished by setting up the parameters for a particular backup operation and then saving those parameters in a setup file. When the backup operation is to be repeated then the setup file can be loaded and there is no need to set up the parameters again. Or if the setup file is saved in a setup folder along with other setup files then all can be accessed together by means of the 'Multiple backup' button.

setup menu Clicking on the 'Setup' button brings up the setup menu, shown at right. You can save a setup file or load a setup file that you have previously saved. You can also save a setup file for the next run, in which case you don't need to save it to a particular location since the settings will automatically be displayed when the program starts up again.

Setup files are ordinary text files, but must have '.mfb' extension. The setup should be saved under some name which describes the operation, e.g., budget_files_to_memory_stick.mfb.

'Clear setup' returns the setup to its initial default state. If you do this by mistake then you can use the 'Restore setup' to get the setup back.

Versions of this program from 11.49 onward use a different file format for the setup files, so loading a setup which was saved with a version prior to 11.49 will display a false setup. In this case the setup has to be corrected and saved anew.

4. The Backup Operations

You can back up:

  1. All files in the current setup, whether or not they have been modified since the last backup.
  2. Only files which are new or have been modified since the last backup.
  3. Only files which are new or have been modified today, since yesterday or in the last few days or few weeks.
  4. Or do any of these only for files which have a particular file extension, e.g., doc or docx.

The file extension specification may include the wildcards * and ?, where * represents any (possibly empty) character string and ? represents some character. So, for example, doc* will cause the program to back up only files with extensions such as doc, docx and docm. And htm* will back up htm and html files. But htm? will not back up htm files because ? must be some non-empty character. (Wildcards cannot be used in the 'Skip filepaths containing' textbox.)

A file which is included in the setup, and for which a backup file (with the same file name) exists, is considered to be modified if it has a different size from the backup file or its file date and time is later than that of the backup file.

Some files which are being used by the Windows operating system or by some other program cannot be backed up (while in use), and an error message will be displayed, typically "Unable to open source file -- inaccessible." Thus it is advisable to close all applications which might be using a file among those to be backed up before performing a backup operation.

Unless the 'Suppress detailed reports' checkbox is checked, backup operations produce a detailed report, such as:

backup modified files reporting

At any time during the report you can pause and continue, or pause and suppress the display of the report.

At the end of the backup operation a summary is given:

When all files are backed up (not just new and modified) then only the folder names are given in the report.

To avoid a lengthy report and get the summary only, check the checkbox for suppressing the display of files backed up.

If a report file is specified then the output to that file is the same as what is displayed, so if the checkbox for suppressing the display is checked then the report file (if specified) will also contain only the summary.

Normally the current file will be newer than the corresponding backup file. If it is not then one should ask why. If the first option is checked and a modified file is found which is older than the backup file then a message such as this one appears (unless the program has been invoked by the Task Scheduler — see below).

Usually a later version of a file is larger than an earlier version, so if the current file is significantly smaller than the backup file then again one should ask why (perhaps it's simply that a large part of the file was deleted). What "significantly smaller" means can be defined as anything from 10% to 90%. If the second option is checked and a modified file is found which is signficantly smaller than the backup file then a message such as this one appears (unless the program has been invoked by the Task Scheduler — see below).

This program does not compress backup files. That's because (i) modern backup devices usually have a lot of capacity and (ii) if you wan't to restore just a single file (or a few) you don't have to restore a whole folder just to get it, but can simply locate the backup file (using Windows Explorer) on the backup device.

Some miscellaneous remarks (which can be skipped on first reading of this user manual):

  1. When all files in the setup are backed up, files which have not been modified are also backed up.

  2. When "new and modified" files in the last N days or weeks are backed up any file which does not exist in the target folder is backed up, regardless of its date, since (for the purpose of the backup) it is a 'new' file.

  3. Copying of files is handed off the the operating system, so (if file output to the target disk is slow) disk activity may continue for a while after the program reports that one or more files have been copied. In a long backup operation the output to the report window may periodically be suspended temporarily while the operating system completes its file copying tasks.

  4. When backing up files to an external device it is recommended to 'eject' the target disk, or if this is not an available option then to shut the computer down. This ensures that the backup files are actually written to the target device.

  5. This software does not change the current files in any way (in particular, it does not clear the archive attribute bit); the only effect on the file system is to create and delete backup files and to create setup files.

  6. Whether or not a current file is read-only or hidden, the backup file is not read-only and is not hidden.

  7. A backup file is a system file (with .sys extension) if and only if the current file is a system file. Large system files, such as pagefile.sys, are skipped and not copied.

  8. A folder which is empty (contains no files or subfolders) is not copied — this is the only case where a source subfolder is not carried over to the target device. Thus the number of folders in the set of backup files may be slightly smaller than the number of folders in the set of current files.

5. The Deletion Operation

The deletion operation deletes all files in the target folder and all files in any subfolders of that folder (and their subfolders). You can choose to have the files overwritten once (called 'wiping') before they are deleted. The slack area of the file is also overwritten (since this may contain data from previous versions of the file).

The deletion operation, in contrast to the backup operations, is not affected by the setting of the time period ("today", "since yesterday", etc.) or the specification of filepaths to skip. But if you specify a file extension then only files with that extension will be deleted.

Confirmation is required before a deletion operation is performed.


If deleted files are not overwritten then they may be recovered using special techniques (at least, until such time as the disk sectors are used to store other data). If there are many files to delete then overwriting may take some time. Overwriting with deletion is thus recommended only if the backup files contain sensitive data. (For more information on this subject see the user manual for the Data Destroyer software.)

When deleting all target files you have the option to pause at the first deletion of files from a folder. As with the option to pause at the first file copy, this is to allow you to check that the deletion is proceeding as intended.

To avoid a lengthy report and get the summary only, check the 'Suppress display of detailed report' checkbox, but if so then then 'Pause on first delete' option is not available.

If files with an 'exe' extension (or 'com', 'doc', 'xls', etc.) are to be overwritten then some anti-virus software may produce a warning message for each file. If this occurs then that software should be disabled before a deletion operation using overwrites.

Note that both the deletion operation will delete all files in the target folder and its subfolders and their subfolders, whether they were created as backup files or not (since the program does not know which files are files it has backed up and which were created in some other way). It is thus advisable (if you plan on deleting files in a particular setup) to ensure that the target folder is empty before doing an initial backup to it. You can find out if it is empty by clicking on the 'Empty...' button.

6. The Report File

If you wish to save a report of which files have been backed up (or deleted) then there are two ways. When there are not many files and folders involved you can (if you have not suppressed the display of files backed up or deleted) simply allow the operation to finish and then copy the report to the clipboard, paste it into Notepad or some other program and save it to a file.

If a backup or deletion operation involves many files and folders then it may be that the report textbox will fill up. If this happens then the program tells you that it will pause for 15 seconds then clear the textbox and continue with the report display.

If this is likely to happen, and you want a report of files backed up (or deleted), then you must first specify a report file (in the usual way). The report file can be anywhere except among the files to be backed up (or deleted).

You can disable output to the report file by checking the checkbox.

A report may be sent to an output file even if the display in the report textbox is suppressed.

If the textbox fills up and is cleared, this will not affect output to the report file.

7. Multiple Backup Operations

setups folderYou can use Backup Modified Files to create several setup files, each defining a particular backup operation, and save these to a particular folder, called the setups folder.

Each setup consists of (i) a source folder (from which files are to be copied), (ii) optionally a set of subfolders of that folder (these to be included in the backup), (iii) a target folder (to which the files are to be copied) and (iv) specification of some options controlling how the backup is to proceed.

Click on the 'Specify setups folder' to tell the program where to find these setup files. You can have several setups folders, containing setup files for various kinds of backup operations (e.g., for different projects).

Click on the 'Mutiple backup' button to bring up a panel such as the one below.

You can delete a setup file. You can load a setup file and then perform a backup or a deletion operation as described above. But the main use of this panel is to perform more than one 'backup modified files' operation. To do this, check the setup files for the backups you wish to perform, then click on the 'Do all backups' button. The backup operations will then all be done without requiring further attention, unless an error occurs or a warning appears (such as regarding a backup file which is younger than, or significantly smaller than, the file being backed up).

It may be advisable, however, to check the setup for each backup operation before it is performed. For this, first check the 'Confirm each setup' checkbox.

8. Restoring Files

This program does not have a 'Restore Files' function, since its main purpose is to keep backup copies of your working files. It may happen, however, that you modify a few files but then wish to revert to the unmodified files. If the versions of those files to which you wish to revert are the same as the versions which were last backed up then by using the 'Check backup state' function you can get a list of the files which have changed since the last backup, and you can then manually copy the backed up files over the current versions. Note that, when files are copied to the backup device, this program does not change them in any way, so you can restore a file simply by copying the backup file over the current file using Windows Explorer.

If there are many files that you wish to restore, and manual restoration is inconvenient, then you could load the setup file for the backup operation and make a new setup file by (a) interchanging the source folder and the target folder, so that the 'backup' operation is from the original target folder to the original source folder, (b) checking the two 'Warn if ...' checkboxes and (c) selecting 'backup since' so that the time period is 'always' or at least covers the period since the last backup. This 'backup' operation will not affect current files which have the same size and date/time as those on the backup device. Since the program will find files on the backup device which are earlier than the corresponding files in the original source folder (or a subfolder) it will display a 'warning' (for each file) and ask if you wish to overwrite the file, thus allowing you to inspect the restoration as it proceeds. When overwriting many files in an operation such as this it is advisable first to make a copy (using Windows Explorer) of the current working folder (and subfolders), which can then be deleted if the result of the restoration operation is as you expect.

9. Scheduling a Backup Operation using Task Scheduler

The Windows Task Scheduler allows you to invoke Backup Modified Files at a specified time each day (or each week, or some other 'trigger', such as when you log on as a particular Windows user). The program will then run according to the last-saved setup (without asking for confirmation).

There are two ways to bring up the Task Scheduler:

(i) In Windows 7 (similarly in other versions of Windows) click on the 'Start' icon, then 'All Programs', then 'Accessories', then 'System Tools', then 'Task Scheduler', as shown at right. (You can right-mouse-click to pin this program to the Start Menu.)

(ii) Alternatively, click on the Windows 'Start' icon and type 'task scheduler' in the 'Search programs and files' textbox, then click on 'Task Scheduler' in the resulting panel (at the top).

When the Task Scheduler starts up:

1. click on 'Create Basic Task' (under 'Actions'), and add a name and description as in the example below.

2. Click 'Next' to bring up the panel which asks 'When do you want the task to start?'. Select 'Daily' or make some other selection, as shown at right.
3. Then click on 'Next'. If you have selected 'Daily' then specify the date and time at which Backup Modified Files should be run, and the recurrence period, as shown in the example at left.
4. Click 'Next' and select 'Start a program'.
5. Click 'Next', click 'Browse' and navigate to the location of the executable program in the 'Program Files (x86)' folder, then in the 'Hermetic Systems' folder, then in the 'mfb...' folder (e.g. 'mfb1312') and select the file named 'mfb...exe' (e.g. 'mfb1312.exe'). Enter 'run' in the 'Add arguments textbox, as shown at left.

Click 'Next', then click 'Finsh' to complete the creation of the task. For a fuller explanation of the use of the Windows Task Scheduler, in particular, as to how to edit a task (click on 'Properties'), search the web for 'How to use Windows Task Scheduler'. You may wish to edit the 'Conditions' settings, in particular as to whether the program should be run 'only if the computer is on AC power'.

Before or after creating a task to run Backup Modified Files at a certain time, you must either (a) create the setup which will be run when the task starts, as explained in Section 1 and Section 2 above or (b) load a previously created setup file (as explained in Section 3). When the program is invoked by the Task Scheduler, it will run whatever setup was last saved, provided that the setup specification is complete and the backup device (such as a memory stick) is found. Thus you must be sure that the setup that you want the Task Scheduler to run has been saved (either saved on quit or saved for the next run).

If Backup Modified Files is running when the Task Scheduler is set to run it then Task Scheduler will not run the program.

When the program is invoked by the Task Scheduler it automatically writes a report to a report file located in the target folder. The name of the report file is derived from the date and time the program is run, as in "_Backup report 2015-04-21 17.30.txt". This file may be deleted when no longer of interest.

10. Running the Program using Task Scheduler without User Supervision

If the program will be run without user supervision then it may be advisable to clear both the 'Warn ...' checkboxes, as shown in the screenshot below.

(The program will not pause after first copy if invoked by the Task Scheduler, whether or not the 'Pause' checkbox is checked.)

If either of the 'Warn' checkboxes is checked then if the program finds an anomalous condition, such as the date/time of a file being backed up being earlier than the date/time of the corresponding file on the backup device, then the program will not stop and ask what to do (as it would if the program were run normally). Instead it will write a warning message to the report file, and at the end of the report there will be a statement of the number of warnings in the report.

11. Auto-Shutdown on Completion

When Backup Modified Files is to be run by the Task Scheduler you can also specify that the program should shut down the computer if and when it finishes. (It will finish only if no dialog boxes appear asking how to proceed and awaiting user input.)

To specify an auto-shutdown, add 'shutdown' to the 'Add arguments textbox, as shown below.

When the program finishes it will display a message as below. If the message is not clicked on, the shutdown will be performed.

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