BOOT CAMP 377 (17/05/05)
Backing up files in Windows XP,
Unfortunately most PC
users only realise the importance of making regular backups of their
irreplaceable files and folders after it is too late, following a catastrophic
hard disc failure, major system crash or the loss of their computer. However, as
we showed last week, Windows XP has a perfectly adequate backup utility built in
that takes just a few minutes to configure, after which data will be
automatically archived. This week we’ll show you how to use
Assuming XP Backup is
installed on your PC (XP Home users should refer to part one) you can launch it
by going to Start > Programs > Accessories, click Backup and this will
start the ‘Wizard’. Click Next to skip the opening page, select Backup Files and
Settings and you will be presented with four choices. For most users the best
options are number one ‘My Documents and settings’ or option 4, ’Let me choose
what to back up’. The former suits those who use the Windows XP default folders
to store documents, images, email messages and so on. However, the ‘Let me
choose…’ option is more flexible and allows you to manually select files and
folders and data stored in other locations on the hard disc -- see part one --
and that’s the one we’ll be concentrating on.
It’s not a good idea to
‘Backup all information’ as this may require more space than you have available
and take a long time. For the record 5 gigabytes of data takes around 10 minutes
to back up. The ‘Everyone’s documents and settings‘ option is useful if the PC
is shared by several users
After selecting ‘Let me
choose…’ click Next and a new window will appear showing a directory tree of the
drives, files and folders on your PC. Work your way down the list, ticking the
check boxes of the folders you want to preserve. At this stage I recommend that
you keep it simple, to get a feel for how it works. Don’t worry, nothing is
written in stone and you can go back at a later date and add or remove entries.
When you have finished click Next and another new window opens asking you to
choose where you want to store your backup.
As we discussed last
week the choices are normally between a separate partition on your hard drive, a
second ‘slave’ drive, an external drive or a network drive. For some bizarre
reason XP Backup doesn’t support CD/DVD-RW drives but XP can be tricked into
using one, see this week’s Top Tip, and if you follow the procedure your CD or
DVD Writer drive letter will appear on the list.
you have selected the backup location you will be asked to give the file a name
and you can click Finish and the operation will be carried out, but once only.
If you want to schedule an automatic backup, or fine-tune the settings you
should click the Advanced button.
takes you to a further set of options starting with the type of backup you want
to make. ‘Normal’ backs up everything specified, which will add to the time it
takes and over time will swallow up a lot of space so it’s a good idea to select
‘Incremental’ from the drop-down menu, which only copies files that have changed
since the most recent backup operation.
screen has further options to verify and compress the backup. Verification is a
good idea but it does take a little longer. Compression should only be used if
you are desperately short of space on your backup media. Leave Disable Volume
Shadow copy unchecked as this means Backup will archive files that are open and
being worked on.
leave the next screen on its default setting, which is to Append or add new
backups to existing ones. Click Next and the Schedule setup page appears. Select
Later give the ‘Job’ a name then click the Set Schedule button. For most users a
weekly backup, carried out when the PC is idle (Friday lunchtimes, for example)
is sufficient but if you create a lot of files then choose a daily session.
Click OK and you will be asked to create a password (though you can leave this
blank), click Finish and it’s done. Just remember to leave the PC switched on
when your backup is due to be carried out.
very well making backups but you also need to know how to restore your archived
files and folders should the need arise. Fortunately it’s very straightforward,
simply run XP backup again and this time, after clicking Next on the opening
screen select ‘Restore files and settings’ and you will be presented with a list
of all of the backups you have created to date. Simply select the files you want
to restore, click Next and then Finish and the backup data will be written back
to its original location on your hard drive.
Next Week -- Synchronising files
A technique used to reduce the size of a file, making it
smaller, more manageable and easier to store or send over the Internet
An automatic check of the integrity of backup files
Simple helper program that starts automatically when beginning a task
TIP OF THE WEEK
In order to use your CD or DVD Writer for storing backups the
blank disc has to be formatted for UDF (Universal Data Format) or ‘Packet
Writing’. This basically means data can be written to and read from the disc in
much the same way as a floppy disc or hard drive. This option is included in
CD/DVD ‘burning’ applications like Roxio Easy Disc Creator (Direct CD) and Nero
Burning (InCD). There are a couple of points to watch out for, however. Data on
the disc can be read and written on the PC it was created on but in order for it
to read on another PC the disc has to be ‘finalised’. Packet Writing is not perfect and repeated
use can corrupt data so change discs on a regular basis, and only use top
quality discs from well-known manufacturers.