Snap Backup User Guide

Snap Backup® stores your important work with a single click.  This guide is intended to help individual computer users incorporate Snap Backup into their daily backup routine for a simple and convenient way to backup their valuable files.

Snap Backup is open source and free for all to use.  To the maximum extent allowed by law, there are no warranties whatsoever included with this software.  Before relying on any backup files, be sure to check their validity and verify that the correct files were indeed backed up.  The source code for Snap Backup is available under the GPLv3 license.

  1. Best Practices
  2. Getting Started
  3. Configuration Settings
  4. Advanced Configuration Settings
  5. Export/Import Settings
  6. 100% Java
  7. Command-Line Option
  8. Upgrading
  9. Known Issues

1) Best Practices

People typically fail to backup their data frequently because:

Corporate system administrators have backup procedures for their company servers, databases, and network files.  Individual computer users, on the other hand, are usually left to fend for themselves.

The following strategies will help you create a backup procedure that is quick and easy.


Data vs. Applications

You have probably at some time been advised to backup your entire hard drive.  While this may be appropriate for some people, it is impractical for most people.  Even if the process uses "delta" technology, the resulting backup file is too huge to easily save and the process often takes a painfully long time.  The reason for this is that the vast majority of the files on your hard drive are operating system files and application program files that do not need to be backed up.  If one of your applications gets corrupted or uninstalled, you can reinstall it from the install CD or Internet download.  What you really need to backup are the data files that store your work and configuration settings.  For example, your word processor application might consume 100,000,000 bytes of space on your hard drive, but all your word processor documents combined might only consume one hundredth that amount.  Your work documents, not your applications, are critical to backup regularly.  Your work is important to you, so you should know where your data is located.  Facilitate quicker backups by separating your data (work files) from your applications (program files).

Centralize Work Files

Make your backups easier to configure by putting your data (work files) into a single high-level folder, and name the folder something like "My Work" or "Data".  Then when you backup your high-level data folder, you have backed up all your work.

Handling Large Work Files

Multimedia files, such as pictures and videos, present a special challenge because they are important to backup, but their size makes them cumbersome to backup frequently.  For multimedia files and other large data files, create a folder called "Storage" or "Large Files" and put it next to (not into) your high-level data folder.  While you backup your high-level data daily, you might only backup your storage folder weekly or monthly.

Make Backing Up Part of Your Daily Habit

Once you have Snap Backup configured to backup your data (work files), it is easy to backup your data daily.  Snap Backup automatically puts the current date in the backup file name, alleviating you from the tedious task of renaming your backup file for each backup.  Snap Backup also optionally copies your backup file to an external archive location.  The backup file is a single compressed file that can be read by zip programs such as Unarchiver, gzip, 7-Zip, and Mac's built-in Archive Utility in the event that you need to restore you data files.

2) Getting Started

The first time you run Snap Backup, configure where your data files reside and where to save the backup files.  You can also specify an optional archive location, such as a USB drive, for storing copies of the backup files.  After saving your settings, they will be automatically available next time you run Snap Backup.  Clicking the "Backup Now" button will start the backup process.  Click the "Exit" button when the backup is finished.

Tip: The "Backup Now" button is the default button when Snap Backup starts up, and it can be fired by just hitting the "Enter" key.  After the backup completes, "Exit" becomes the default button, so you can complete the entire backup process by launching Snap Backup and hitting "Enter" twice.

3) Configuration Settings

Configure Snap Backup to work in your specific environment with the settings described below.

Folder and Files to Backup

Use the "Add Folder or File" button to add a folder or file to the list of items to be backed up when you press the "Backup Button".  If you specify a folder, all its contents (sub-folders and files) will be included in the backup.  To delete a folder or file from the list, use the "Remove" button.

Save Backup (Zip) File Into

Enter the full name of the folder into which you wish to have the backup file placed.  Enter the full name directly or use the button with the folder icon to browse for the desired folder.

Backup Name

Enter the file name of the backup file to be created, but do not include the ".zip" extension, which is appended automatically, nor the folder path, which is specified in the "Save Backup (Zip) File Into" field.

Copy Backup To

Use the checkbox to specify whether or not to make a copy of the backup file.  This feature is typically used to archive the backup file by copying it to a another location, like a USB flash drive (memory stick) or external hard drive.  (Note: On macOS, USB drives show up in the "Volumes" folder with the name given to the drive, such as "/Volumes/MyData".  On Windows, the USB Drive will show up under a drive letter, such as "F:\".)  Enter the full name of the folder into which you wish to have the backup file copied.

Message Log

This area displays the names of the files add to the backup file and also displays any errors encountered while creating the backup.

Save Settings

After you have configured Snap Backup with the desired settings, save them with the "Save Settings" button for automatic use next time you run Snap Backup.

Restore Default Settings

Use the "Restore Default Settings" button to reset your configuration settings to the original generic settings.  Note that your new settings will not be saved until you hit the "Save Settings" button.

Backup Now

Use the "Backup Now" button to kick off the backup process.


Use the "Exit" button to close Snap Backup after your backup is complete.

4) Advanced Configuration Settings

Some Snap Backup options need to be turned on from the "File" menu before they can be used.

Backup Filters

Use the filters to gain more control over exactly which files to include in your backup.  Click the "Edit Filter" button to bring up to the filter editor and then create your rules.  For example, an include rule set to "bookmarks.html" will mean that only files named "bookmarks.html" will be backed up. The star character ("*") is the wildcard, so an include rule of "*.txt, *.xml" means only files with either the ".txt" or ".xml" file extension will be backed up.  The exclude rule works in the opposite fashion.  An exclude rule of "*cache*" means that all files with the "cache" in any part of their name will be skipped over and not included in the backup.  The exclude rule takes precedence over the include rule.

Multiple Backup Profiles

If you have sets of files you want to backup separately, such as work files and personal files, then navigate to the "Multiple Profiles" option on the "File" menu and select "On".  A "Backup Profiles" section will appear on the left side the Snap Backup window.  Use the "New" button to create profiles with different backup settings.

Look & Feel

Use the "Look & Feel" options under the "File" menu to select a style best for your tastes.

5) Export/Import Settings

Once you have your configuration settings properly setup, you should back them up so the settings can be restored if needed.  Choose "Export Settings..." from the "File" menu to save your settings to a file.  If you need to restore your previously saved settings, choose the "Import Settings..." also in the "File" menu.

Note that settings relative to your home folder are restored using your home folder at the time of import.  For example, if your user name is "michelle", you might configure Snap Backup to zip up the folder "/Users/michelle/Documents".  If you export your settings and then import them on a system where your user name is "mjohnson", Snap Backup will adjust your settings to zip up the folder "/Users/mjohnson/Documents".

6) 100% Java

Snap Backup is 100% Java and designed to run on any computer with Java 5 (JRE 1.5) or greater.  Snap Backup is fully internationalized.  Visit the Snap Backup web site ( for information about different international languages supported.

Your feedback is important for improving Snap Backup.  Please submit issues and bug reports on GitHub at "".  When submitting bug reports, include the "System Information" found in the About Box (Help > About Snap Backup).

7) Command-Line Option

To facilitate launching backups from scripts and schedulers, Snap Backup can be run from the command-line.  The form of the command is:

      $ java -jar snapbackup.jar <profile_name>

Replace "<profile_name>" with the name of the backup profile you wish to use.  For example, the following command would be used to perform a backup with the settings for the "Spreadsheets" profile:

      $ java -jar snapbackup.jar spreadsheets

The profile name is case-insensitive.  If the profile name contains a space, be sure to enclose the name in quotes.

Specify "~" for the profile name if you only have one profile or just want to use whatever profile is the current default profile.  The command is:

      $ java -jar snapbackup.jar ~

Depending on how your computer is setup and where you have Snap Backup installed, you may need to specify the full path for "java" or "snapbackup.jar" or both.  On most Windows systems, for example, you would use a command like:

      > java -jar "C:\Program Files\Center Key\Snap Backup\snapbackup.jar" ~

To schedule your backups on Windows to be performed automatically, create a one line file called "Snap Backup.cmd" containing the Snap Backup command.  Then go into the "Control Panel" and open "Scheduled Tasks".  From there, use "Add Scheduled Task" to "Browse..." to the "Snap Backup.cmd" file and schedule your backups.

8) Upgrading

To upgrade your version of Snap Backup, simply install the new version.  The new version will cleanly replace the old version, and all your backup settings will automatically be preserved.

9) Known Issues

Existing problems: