Optional Intro [skip straight to instructions]
It all started in the ancient days of 5 Years Ago when I, as a poor university student, couldn’t afford a spacious 1TB hard drive. Instead I used CDs and DVDs to store and transfer large files, e.g. movies and music. Over the years, I accumulated huge stacks of unsorted disks. Meanwhile, HDDs got cheaper, but the prospect of manually copying hundreds of CDs was already too intimidating to consider. Luckily I’ve now found a way to automate most of the process. This what I want to share in today’s post.
Choosing The Tools
To copy files from a disc/flash drive you usually need to insert the disc, open it, select the files, drag them to the destination, wait until the copy completes and remove the disk. You can’t really automate the “insert the disk” part (unless you have a helpful android nearby), but everything else can be handled by software. In this case, that software is SyncBackPro (shareware).
SyncBackPro is technically a backup creator, but with a few configuration tweaks you can make it watch for when a disc is inserted (or a flash drive plugged in) and copy all the files to a specified location. In the case of CDs/DVDs it can also eject the disc after the copying is finished.
Sidenote : I realize SyncBackPro probably isn’t the only software that can do this. It’s just what I had handy. But hey, it works.
Setting It Up
First, download and install SyncBackPro. The installation is fairly standard and consists mostly of clicking “Next” a whole lot of times.
Now, start up the application (if it didn’t launch automatically after installation) and click the “New” button in the lower left corner of the main window to create a new profile. It will ask for a profile name; enter something descriptive like “Copy CDs To Folder X” and click “Next”.
SyncBackPro will now ask you a number of questions about the new profile. They’re all pretty simple, so I’ll just list the options to select for each question :
- Profile type : Backup
- Use FTP? : No FTP
- Use Email? : No Email
- Backup to CD/DVD? : No CD or DVD
- Compress files? : No Zip Files
Next you will need to select the disk drive to copy from. If you want to copy from CDs/DVDs, enter the root folder name that corresponds to your CD/DVD drive (usually “D:\”; in my case it was “F:\”). For a flash drive, use the drive letter that is usually assigned to that drive when it’s plugged in (varies). In the next screen do the same for the destination folder.
Select “No Fast Backup” from the next screen and click “Done”.
Now comes the tricky part. SyncBackPro will show you a dialog window where you can set advanced options. Switch to “Expert” mode by clicking on “Expert” in the left sidebar. You’ll get a lot more options in the sidebar (I’ve highlighted the sections you’ll need) :
Navigate to each of the sections and make the changes indicated below :
- When -> Insert : Tick “Run this profile when” and select the source drive (same as in step 4) from the drive dropdown. Also tick “Run unattended” to make the task run in the background.
- Copy/Delete -> Advanced : Untick “Make safe copies”. This speeds up copying and isn’t really that “unsafe”. Optionally, tick “Remove the read-only attribute from copies”.
- Misc. -> Media : If copying from CD/DVD discs, tick the first checkbox on this screen (“Eject [Source] media after the profile has run”).
Finally, click OK. SyncBackPro will ask if you want to do a simulated run of the profile. This is usually unnecessary if you’ve set everything up correctly, but you can do it anyway if you wish.
Note : If you chose to copy from a flash drive or another removable disk, and no disk is currently inserted, SyncBackPro may warn you that “the drive doesn’t exist”. This is normal, just click “OK”.
To see if the new profile works, insert a CD/DVD in the appropriate drive (or plug in a flash drive). SyncBackPro should display an animated icon in the system tray and show a progress bar in the main window, and finally eject the disc when done. If any problems are encountered (i.e. an unreadable file on a scratched disk) the program will open a detailed error report in your default web browser.
Now all you need to do is periodically remove processed discs and insert new ones
There are some additional considerations and tips that I haven’t mention above :
- To temporarily disable a profile, right-click in the main window and select “Disable”. To enable it again, choose “Enable” from the same popup.
- You can configure SyncBackPro to only copy files of certain type(s) by clicking “Change Filter” in the final profile setup screen and adding the necessary filters. For example, you could create two separate profile for video and audio files – each would copy the files to a different directory.
- You can make the program monitor a certain folder and copy any new files that appear in there. See the When -> Changes settings screen.
- Check out the Misc. -> (Speech) and Programs -> After sections if you want to set up a notification that would indicate when a task finishes running. I couldn’t get the speech function to work on my system, but you may have better luck.