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How To Easily Create Project Build Backups in Visual Studio Express


Visual Studio Express is designed for small/one man development teams to where source control is likely overkill, yet making and having point-in-time source backups is incredibly important. This guide leverages the power of batch scripts and Visual Studio Express External Tools to make creating source backups a one-click integrated menu option.

Note that if you are using Visual Studio Professional, my How-To Geek guide (How to Automatically Create Build Backups in Visual Studio) would be the recommended solution to implement as it makes the process completely automatic. However, this solution will certainly work.


  1. Download my Project Build Backup Script (if you don't have 7z.exe on your system, get the full download package).
  2. Extract it to: C:\Tools
  3. In Visual Studio Express, go to Tools > External Tools...
  4. Add a new tool with the following settings:
    • Title: Create Build Backup
    • Command: cmd.exe
    • Arguments:
      /C ProjectBuildBackup.bat "$(SolutionDir)" "$(ProjectDir)" "$(TargetName)" /D
    • Initial directory: C:\Tools
    • Check options: Use Output window & Close on exit
  5. Now whenever you want to create a dated backup of your project source, make sure you have your Project selected in the Solution Explorer.
  6. Go to Tools > Create Build Backup.
  7. Because the option for Use Output window is selected, you can see the results in the Visual Studio Express output display.
  8. Opening the folder referenced in the File Path from above will show the project source backups, each timestamped.
  9. Each zip file contains the full project package which makes this a true snapshot backup.


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