BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2003

  

 

BOOT CAMP 280 (24/06/03)

 

Survival Strategies part 2

 

Most PC crashes are survivable; if the motherboard, memory, CPU or power supply fails they can be easily replaced. Even it’s a serious software fault the data files on your hard disc drive are normally still intact and can be recovered by ‘slaving’ the disc on a working PC but if your hard drive pops its clogs, unless you have an adequate backup strategy, then you are in serious trouble!

 

In last week’s Boot Camp we looked at the various ways you can backup your valuable or irreplaceable data, but that’s only part of the recovery process and this week we’ll be looking at what to backup and how protecting and organising your data files can also help to ease the transition when eventually you come to upgrade or replace your PC.

 

Unless you’re opting for a whole system backup on a second hard disc drive using specialist software – see last week’s Boot Camp -- you need to be a little selective about the data you’re archiving. Manual backups, using recordable CDs is the simplest and most reliable method for most home PC users but it does require a little initial effort to create a set of ‘Master Discs’, after that you simply incrementally backup new data on a recordable CD as and when it is created or as part of a regular routine.

 

If you simply can’t trust yourself to remember to do it then have a look at a simple little freeware utility called Ezback-it-up, which can be programmed to copy files and folders to a nominated drive at specified intervals. You’ll find the download file at: http://www.rdcomp.net/

 

The obvious contenders for backing up are all of the folders containing your documents, spreadsheets, accounting program files and so on. You should also make copies of folders containing digital photographs, music tracks and anything else that cannot be easily replaced and exists only on your PC’s hard disc drive. This includes any programs, utilities or patches that you have downloaded from the Internet. It’s a good idea to create a separate folder just for downloads, and while you are at it, you can give ‘zipped’ files more memorable names, so they’re easier to identify, but do not change the file extension, or they may not work. If you’re really organised you can create a separate sub folder in your download folder and copy into it just the programs and utilities that you can’t do without.

 

Email messages and your address book require a slightly different procedure and the first step is to copy them to a separate folder on your hard disc drive and then transfer that to a blank CD. If you are using Outlook Express it’s easy. Open Windows Explorer and create a new folder in the root of your C: drive and give it a name, e.g. ‘Mailbak’ and this is where you will store your message and address book folders.

 

The Outlook Express message folder is normally in one of two locations, in Windows 9x (95/98/ME/SE) you’ll find it in:

 

C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Identities\{GUID}Microsoft\Outlook Express (where GUID or Global Unique Identifier is a long string of numbers and letters).

 

In Windows XP it is in:

 C:\Documents and Settings\[your name]\Application Data\Identities\{GUID}\Microsoft\Outlook Express.

 

Right click to highlight the Outlook Express folder, click Copy or Ctrl + C, now go to your Mailbak folder and click Paste (Ctrl + V). Copying your address book is even simpler. In Outlook Express go to Export on the File menu, select Address Book then ‘Text File (comma separated value)’ and use the Browse button to direct it to your Mailbak folder. Finally, copy and paste your Favourites folder into Mailbak; in Windows 9x it lives in the Windows folder and in XP it can be found in Documents and Settings.

 

On the new PC (or the new hard drive on a repaired PC, once Windows has been installed) use the Import function on OE’s file menu to load in the Address Book and Messages from the CD. You may find that Outlook Express won’t import directly from a CD-ROM, in which case copy the Mailbak folder onto the new drive and try again. The Favourites folder can be copied and pasted from the CD into the appropriate location in the Windows or Documents and Settings folders.

 

There’s no point in backing up your programs and applications, these can be loaded at your leisure but you should make sure that all of the installation discs for the software that you use on a regular basis is kept in a safe place. Don’t forget any registration keys or passwords that may be needed to install or use the programs so ensure you have them to hand. Make archiving them one of your first jobs and at your earliest opportunity create a word processor document containing all of this information. For security purposes it’s a good idea to give it an innocuous sounding name and keep it in a separate location on your hard disc drive; you could hide it in a program folder for example, but remember where it’s kept, and when you come to create your backup CD, copy it across to one of your Master backup discs.

 

Finally, one of the most useful PC accessories you can own is a shoebox. They’re the right size and shape for storing all of the discs and manuals you’ll need to revive a dead PC or configure a new one to your way of working. The shoebox should be where you keep your operating system installation or recovery discs, an emergency start-up disc, your motherboard drivers and utilities plus driver discs for all of your hardware peripherals, such as the printer, scanner, memory card reader, web cam and any networking components. If there’s any room left you can keep your program installation discs in there as well.

 

Next week – Wireless networking

 

JARGON FILTER

 

CPU

Central Processor Unit - the main microprocessor chip in a PC

 

SLAVING

Connecting a second hard disc drive to a PC, for extra storage space or to access data files and folders

 

ZIPPING

File compression system, to reduce the size of data files. Zipped files

requires special program (Pkunzip, WinZip etc) to extract or decompress the data or information

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you want to do a really thorough job of backing up essential data on your PC then you really should include all of the driver files. Unfortunately they’re kept in several locations but this incredibly useful freeware utility called WinDriversBackup seeks them out and copies them into one convenient folder, which you can copy to your archive disc. As well has helping you to recover after a crash it could also prove invaluable if you’ve lost, or your PC didn’t come with a driver installation disc. The download file is 2.5Mb and it can be found at: http://www.jermar.com/wdrvbck.htm

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