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Tips on backing up your data

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I've been asked how to back up files a couple of times, and thought it might be helpful to put this in here for reference.

Backing up your XP computer

The goal of a successful backup strategy is to minimize data loss and your recovery time. If you suddenly had a bolt of lightning come through your window and smoke your computer, what would you lose? If the thought of a catastrophic failure makes you shake or sweat, your back up plan is not sufficient for your needs. How much effort you want to put into your backup routine is proportional to how valuable your data is to you. You may need a combination of the following suggestions.

Partitioning Is Your First Line Of Defense

Today's huge hard drives can be more manageable after partitioning. It is easiest to set up partitions when you originally install XP. You can also purchase software like Partition Magic to do it for you. Partitioning your drive is sensible for three reasons:

(1) To reduce time spent doing maintenance (like defrag) on redundant files.

(2) Your backups are so easy to do that you won't dread it.

(3) If you do trash XP, your data remains safe on the other partition.

Backing Up Your Files

External Drives

For absolutely critical data you should have an external hard drive. From a pocket flash drive to a full hard drive and case, they are all relatively inexpensive insurance. By using your computer's USB ports you can transfer data quickly between drives. For crucial data, back up and store the other drive in another physical location, preferably in a fireproof, waterproof and secured access place. For things you cannot lose, in a pinch, you can use a camera or other device with memory, synch with your laptop, or upload to a webhost. The important thing is that the files exist somewhere other than your hard drive.

Media Back Ups

CDs DVDs & Floppys are in this group. Relatively inexpensive, disposable, and convenient to copy files to. Do not entrust precious back up media to "rewriteables". Care must be taken to preserve the quality of the media, too, if the data is to last any significant amount of time. Keep media clean, dry and cool.

Drive Images

Drive Imaging software (like Norton Ghost, Acronis etc) is available for purchase, too. Many people use Drive Imaging to ensure there is a good copy of the entire system, a "snapshot" at a given point in time. The main advantage to this software is the speed with which you can put your system back together, the drawback is the potential to carry over errors. Drive Imaging also requires the discipline of the user to stick to a schedule.

The XP native back up utility is sufficient for casual users, and relatively easy to navigate through. ~insert link~

What to Back Up

Windows Address Book (Outlook Express)

Default location

C >Doc & Settings> User> Application Data> Microsoft> Address Book> User. WAB

Outlook Express Messages

OE messages are saved in .dbx files, and can be backed up in that format, but not read without importing into a functional OE, where they will overwrite files names the same thing, so be careful. You can buy software like DBXpress to open them outside of OE. OE messages can also be saved individually to the folder of the user’s choice in the .eml format.

Default location:

C> Doc & Settings> User> Local Settings>Application Data> Identities> Long string of variable numbers> Microsoft> OE>

My Favorites- IE bookmarks

Default location

C> Doc & Settings> User>

Downloaded Programs

Keep a folder somewhere for programs you download. Get into the habit of "saving" downloads, and doing your installing from this designated folder, instead of directly from the download. Back up that folder periodically to ensure easy reinstall.

My Docs

XP, by default, puts your albums, e-books, pictures, music and movies into the My Doc folder. You may need to set up other folders outside of "My Docs" of these same file types, don't forget to include them in your back up routine.

Themes & Preferences

If you use a particular skin or theme, screensavers, sounds etc, you will want to back up your settings and preferences, unless you are confident that you can restore them manually. You can even save your cookies.


Buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)

This is not a surge protector. It has a battery in it that will run your modem, monitor and tower long enough for you to save unfinished work, and allow you or the UPS software to initiate an orderly shutdown, and a UPS levels out any spikes or dips in the current going to the power supply and motherboard. “Brown-outs” and lightning surges cause hardware failures. The better models even regulate your cable or telephone connections with jacks to use between the cord and the computer.

Other XP Recovery Tools

Recovery Console click here

Automated System Recovery click here

System Restore click here

Repair Install XP click here

Clean Install of XP click here


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