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Installing and Configuring ABP

Before you can use ABP, you must first install it, and then configure it, as described on this page. Once you've done that, the “using” part is essentially automatic.

How to Install ABP

The ABP plugin is installed in essentially the same way as any other KeePass plugin:

  1. Download (where n is a digit) from or from ABP Version 1.10 or later should work with KeePass Version 1.15 or later (but not KeePass 2.x).
  2. Unzip into the folder containing KeePass.exe.

To check that ABP installation has been successful, start KeePass. From KeePass' main window, select “Tools”. If there is a menu item called “Help for Another Backup Plugin”, then installation of ABP has been successful. Select that menu item. If this documentation is displayed, then installation of ABP documentation has been successful. To read release-specific information, open AnotherBackupPluginReleaseNotes.txt in the folder containing KeePass.exe.

Windows Security Warning: If selecting the “Help for Another Backup Plugin” menu item causes a Windows security warning, then Windows is blocking AnotherBackupPlugin.chm from opening, and you must find a way to unblock it. If the security warning dialog has an “Always ask before opening this file” checkbox, you can uncheck it and select “Open”. Another way is to right click on AnotherBackupPlugin.chm in Windows Explorer and select “Properties”. At the bottom of the "General" tab, there may be an "Unblock" button. If so, click the "Unblock" button, and then select "OK" to close the Properties dialog. A third way, if there is no "Unblock" button, is to copy AnotherBackupPlugin.chm to a FAT file system (such as a USB flash drive or floppy disk drive) and back.

How to Configure ABP

Use Shortcut or Batch File: ABP is configured entirely through KeePass command line arguments. To conveniently pass the various command line arguments, it is probably best to start KeePass through a shortcut, a batch file, or a combination of these. If you've previously installed KeePass, you may already have found it useful to start KeePass through a shortcut or batch file anyway, as explained below. If you don't know what a command line is, see also Configuration Hints for Non-Geeks.

Initial Database: The database specified as a KeePass command line argument will be called the initial database. This is the database which ABP backs up. You must specify your database as a command line argument to KeePass in order for ABP to back it up. Ordinarily, the initial database is opened automatically when KeePass starts up. However, if the KeePass /lock command line option is specified, the initial database not opened until you explicitly unlock it.

Backup Path: Specify one or more command line arguments of the form /backup.path:BACKUP_PATH where BACKUP_PATH is the path where you'd like a backup copy placed. This path must exist before KeePass begins; ABP won't create it for you. For more details, see Command Line Arguments.

Shortcuts: Many KeePass users find shortcuts helpful, even without any backup plugin. Opening a shortcut provides a convenient way to start KeePass, when the shortcut's target contains the path to KeePass.exe. The shortcut's Target field could also include command line arguments to specify the paths to the initial database and/or the key file. A typical shortcut Target line for invoking KeePass with ABP might look something like:

"C:\Program Files\KeePass\KeePass.exe" "C:\Program Files\KeePass\Database.kdb" /backup.path:"D:\WhateverPath\"

Batch Files: Many KeePass users find batch files helpful, even without any backup plugin. If KeePass.exe, the password database, and the key file are on a USB flash drive, it is advantageous for the shortcut target to be a batch file on this drive, rather than being KeePass.exe directly. The batch file, rather then the shortcut, can specify the paths to the initial database and the key file, using the %~dp0 batch parameter to get its own drive letter and path. That way, changes to the name or path of the password database or key file only need to be made in one place, locally on the flash drive, rather than on every PC where the USB flash drive is used. For example, the main batch file statement might look something like

start /D"%~dp0" KeePass.exe database.kdb -keyfile:pwsafe.key %*

assuming all needed files (the batch file, KeePass.exe, etc.) are in the same folder. (Adjust the above statement accordingly if they're in different folders.) Assuming that the backup paths are different on different PCs, the command line option(s) for the backup path(s) should go in the shortcut target on each PC where you want backup. That way, they'll be passed into the batch file, and appended to the KeePass.exe command line by the “%*” variable. Using the start command, rather than just invoking KeePass directly, allows the command window to close while KeePass is still running. To avoid seeing the command window at all, set the “Run” field of the “Shortcut” tab in the shortcut's properties to “Minimized”.

Configuration Hints for Non-Geeks

If you don't know what a command line is, or how to specify command line arguments, this section may help. This section is only a supplement to the previous section for non-geeks – not a replacement.

Creating a KeePass Shortcut: If you're reading this far, you're better off staying away from batch files, and just using a shortcut. After you've installed KeePass and ABP, you should create a KeePass shortcut. To do this, first find the KeePass program in Windows Explorer. Right-click on the KeePass program, and select “Copy”. Next, right-click on your desktop, and select “Paste Shortcut”. An icon called “Shortcut to KeePass.exe” should appear on your desktop. To rename this shortcut to “KeePass” (recommended), right-click on the shortcut and select “Rename”. Then type “KeePass”. When you double-click on this shortcut, KeePass should start.

Adding Command Line Arguments: To configure ABP, you will need to add command line arguments, described in How to Configure ABP, to the shortcut. To add command line arguments, first right-click on the KeePass shortcut you've created, and select “Properties”. A window should open, and it should have a field called “Target”. This field is the command line. It should already contain the path and file name of KeePass.exe. You should not change this path and file name. To add a command line argument to the Target field, move the cursor to the end of the field and start typing, beginning with a blank space to separate it from the KeePass command. If the command line arguments are long and/or complex, you may prefer to use more efficient techniques than typing, as explained in the following paragraph.

Efficiently Entering Long Lines: If entering very long command lines into a shortcut's Target field seems daunting, here are some simple techniques which make the complexity proportional to only the number of command line arguments, rather than to the number of characters. Use your mouse to select the string


Next, enter CTRL-C to copy it to the clipboard; then use CTRL-V to paste it into the Target field in the shortcut Properties window. To enter an existing backup path, just navigate to that path in Windows Explorer, then copy and paste the path from the Windows Explorer Address Bar. (If the Address Bar is not visible in Windows Explorer, select “View”, “Toolbars”, “Address Bar”.) To enter an existing database file, right-click on the file in Windows Explorer and select “Properties”. From the Properties dialog, you can separately copy and paste the file's name and path (called the “Location” in that dialog).

Warning About Target Type: If you've followed the above directions correctly for creating and modifying the KeePass shortcut, the “Target type” field of the shortcut properties will say “Application”. If your “Target type” field is “KeePass Password Database”, the shortcut will not work as intended, because Windows® will ignore all parameters after the first. Delete the shortcut, and start over. Note to any geek wannabe: If you configure your shortcut to invoke a batch file, the “Target type” will be something like “Windows NT Command Script”.

Configuration Guidelines

Avoid Common-Mode Failure: For the purpose of preventing loss of your password database, backup copies should be configured to reside on different physical media from the initial database, and different physical media from each other, if more than one backup copy is written. The reason is that most failure mechanisms will cause all the files on one physical medium to be lost at the same time. Engineers call this a common-mode failure.

Physically Separate Backup Media: Extending this reasoning, the more physically separated the media the better. For example, if the initial database is on a portable medium such as a USB flash drive, any PC hard disk can serve as a sensible backup medium. If the initial database is on a PC's hard disk, the backup copy could sensibly be on a different hard disk in the same computer. Better would be the hard disk of a different computer in the same building. Even better would be a hard disk in cyberspace.

Configuration Restrictions

ABP does not prevent configuring on the same physical medium, but it does prevent configuring a backup folder to be the same as the initial database folder, and it prevents two backup folders from being the same as each other. Such disallowed configurations do not make sense, since ABP preserves the database file name.

Portable Media

The most commonly used portable medium for storing a KeePass database is a USB flash drive (UFD), also known by dozens of other names, including USB data stick, geek stick, USB keychain drive, USB memory key, and nerd necklace (when worn around the neck). KeePass databases are also stored on physically larger portable media such as floppy disks, R/W CDROM disks, and even removable hard drives. (Of course, KeePass databases can also be stored on non-portable media.)