BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOT CAMP 376 (10/05/05)

BACKING UP FILES IN WINDOWS, part 1

 

Judging by the number of emails and letters we receive from readers desperate to recover important files that have been lost through accidental deletion or disc failure the message about backing up essential files still isn’t being taken seriously enough.

 

Modern hard disc drives are incredibly reliable and Windows tries hard to stop you deleting files unintentionally, and then usually gives you the opportunity to restore them from the Recycle Bin, so you have to be either very unlucky or quite determined to loose anything permanently. Even so there’s no excuse and making regular backups is quick and easy, especially in Windows XP, though to be fair the facility is quite well hidden in the ‘Home’ edition.

 

Over the next two weeks we’ll show you how to set up automated backup in Windows XP using the built-in utility. In part one we’ll cover the basics and delve into the more advanced options next week

 

Before you begin, though, it’s worth spending a few minutes organising your files, to make backing them up easier and faster. Start by identifying the files that you want to preserve. In general these should be just the ones that you have created or stored on your PC and which exist in no other place. Essentially that means things like documents, photographs, spreadsheets, music files as well as your email messages, address book, favourites and so on. There’s usually no need to backup system files and the Windows Registry as this is normally taken care of by Windows XP System Restore. They also consume a great deal of storage space and will slow things down appreciably. There’s nothing to stop you including them if you favour the belt and braces approach, though be aware that the volume of data involved may well restrict your choice of backup medium.

 

If you have stuck with the Windows defaults and keep all of your unique files in My Documents, My Pictures etc. then there’s no problem but if they are spread around your hard drive it’s a good idea to group files or folders of the same type into a smaller number of ‘Master’ folders.

 

Make a note of the location of your emails and address book. On most XP computers the Outlook Express message store folder is located at: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{<GUID>}\Microsoft\Outlook Express, (where GUID is a long string of alphanumeric characters). The address book can be found at: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book, and your Favorites folder should be in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Favorites.

 

It’s a good idea to make a rough estimate of how much space your backup will require. You can do this in Windows Explorer but a far easier and quicker method is to install a handy freeware utility called SpaceMonger -- see this week’s Top Tip.

 

Armed with this information you can give some thought to where your backup will be stored. Since we’re talking about files amounting to several tens, possibly hundreds of megabytes your choice will usually be limited to a separate partition on your main hard drive, a second or ‘slave’ drive, or a removable or external disc drive or flash memory ‘pen’ drive. You can also use a CD or DVD writer but for some reason this facility isn’t supported by the XP backup utility, however, there are ways around that, as we shall see next week.

 

A separate partition on your main drive is the least attractive option because if this fails your backup data will almost certainly be lost. A separate hard drive is a better alternative though unless the drive is mounted in a ‘caddy’ this will make it difficult to store the backup ‘off site’ or in a safe place in case the PC is damaged or stolen. For that reason removable drives and CDs or DVDs are by far the best method. If you haven’t got around to installing a second hard drive have a look at Boot Camp 316, which you will find in the Connected Archive.

 

We will round off part one by looking at how to run the XP Backup facility. If you are using Windows XP Pro it’s easy, it should already be installed, simply go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup or just type ‘ntbackup’ (without the quotes in Run on the Start menu. If you are using XP Home you will need to load the utility from your Windows disc. To do that pop the disc into the drive and when it starts (or if it doesn’t start automatically double-click the drive icon) then on the Welcome screen select Perform Additional Tasks. Click Browse this CD then make your way to the ValueAdd folder > Msft > Ntbackup and double click Ntbackup.msi and the installation will begin.

 

If your PC didn’t come with an installation disc, or you can’t find the file in your Windows recovery disc or ‘cab’ files in the C:\Windows\Options folder then you can download it from the Internet and you will find a copy at: www.onecomputerguy.com/software/ntbackup.msi

 

Next Week -- Backing up files in Windows XP, part 2

 

JARGON FILTER

 

CAB FILES

‘Cabinet’ files, containing compressed data used by Windows for installing or updating the operating system. Some manufacturers load the cab files on the hard drive instead of supplying an installation disc  

 

CADDY

Removable container for an optical disc or a hard disc drive, enabling it to be quickly extracted for storage or loading in another drive or PC

 

GUID

Global Unique Identifier -- long string of alphanumeric characters used by Windows to identify files specific to a particular PV

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

SpaceMonger is a small freeware program (the download is only 103kb), which displays a clear graphical representation of what’s on your PC’s hard drive, along with the sizes of files and folders. The download is in the form of a ‘zip’ file but Windows XP can automatically uncompress it. You will find it, along with instruction on how to use it at: www.werkema.com/software/spacemonger.html

Search PCTopTips 


Web

PCTopTips

Boot Camp Index

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

 

Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME

 

 

 

 

 

 Copyright 2006-2009 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.