Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Basics of Backing Up Your System

Backups
Backups allow you to restore your files if either:

– Your hard drive crashes and everything on it is lost. This CAN happen and probably will, at least once every couple of years. When this occurs you have to do a FULL SYSTEM RESTORE (see below) which involves using the most recent regularly scheduled backup. If you do the backups as prescribed below AND the full system restores in the order specified, you are assured that when you are finished with the restore your system will be EXACTLY as it was before the crash. The whole process takes less than three (3) hours. It is important to understand that the ability to restore a system to exactly the way it was before a crash in the least amount of time is your objective. The backup and restore strategies that All About Your Own Website.com defines here satisfy this goal.

– You’ve accidentally deleted an important file. When this happens you have to restore the file from the most recently regular scheduled backup set. – You need to re-install software that you have previously downloaded and paid for. When this happens you have to restore the original download file from either the CD or floppy diskette you saved when the software was originally downloaded.
When to Perform Backups
– REGULARLY SCHEDULED BACKUPS should be done as often as is practical. A good measure is every eight (8) hours of computer use. If you enter a lot of data, or work on documents every day, you’ll want to perform a backup every day. Backups are your insurance policy against the loss of valuable data and/or files.

– SPECIAL ONE-TIME BACKUPS should be done for any software that paid to download. Put them onto a separate backup disk and label them with any account or registration identification. This makes it possible to re-install it in the future.

What files Require Regular Scheduled Backups?
The good news is that very few files need to be backed up on a regular basis. Only application data and environment settings need to be regularly backed up. You do not have to backup your entire hard drive or anything close to that. The operating system (Windows 95/98/Me) does not need to be backed up nor does any of the other software, or programs, that you may have installed from CDs. All About Your Own Website.com recommends the following files for regularly scheduled backup:
C:My Documents – the entire folder and any/all subfolders.

Windows files:
o C:WindowsDesktop folder
o C:WindowsStartMenu folder
o C:WindowsFavorites folder
o C:WindowsSendTo folder
o C:WindowsAllUsers folder
o C:WindowsOfflineWebPages folder

Netscape bookmarks (required for Netscape users only)
o C:Program FilesNetscapeCommunicatorUsers’your name’ bookmark.htm

C:WindowsApplicationData – the entire folder and any/all subfolders. Windows keeps volatile data and settings information in this area, as do many other applications. Application specific data.
o For example, QUICKEN keeps your financial account information in its own area (C:Program FilesQuicken…) so if you are using QUICKEN you will want to include these data files as part of your backup. Read each application’s documentation or HELP for the specifics.

Recommended Media for Storing Backups
Three different types of storage media may be used for backup safekeeping. You can determine how much backup storage you will need by right-clicking on the folders/files listed above and selecting “properties” to see the “Size” of these folders/files. Once you know approximately how much data you have to backup you will know how many disks (depending on the backup media you are using) will be required:

Backing Up to Floppy Disks

Suitable for 4 Mb or less of data (about 4 floppies). More than 4 Mb of data prolongs the backup process and requires too many floppy disks. You need about one (1) floppy for each one (1) Mb of data. Run the Windows backup program:

“START/PROGRAMS/ACCESSORIES/SYSTEM TOOLS/Backup” and select just those folders or files listed above for the backup. Read the backup program’s documentation about how to “select” those files you wish to backup and how to “save” the selection for future backup use. Be sure to label and date the floppies when finished. They can be reused and re-labeled for future backups. Keep at least two floppies in a rotation. Reuse and re-label the oldest one each time.

Pros: No purchase required (software and hardware already built-in to every Windows system). Disks are inexpensive.

Cons: Slow and cumbersome for more than 4Mb of data.
Backing Up to ZIP Drives
Each zip disk holds 100 Mb (or 250 Mb or more depending on what drive you buy) and the backup process is very fast. Run the backup program that came with ZIP drive. Read the backup program’s documentation about how to “select’ which files are to be backed up and how to “save”’ the selection for future backup use. Be sure to label and date the disk when finished. They can be reused and re-labeled for future backups. Keep at least two disks in a rotation. Reuse and re-label the oldest one each time.

Pros: Faster than floppies and requires fewer disks (each disk equals 100 or more floppies).

Cons: Requires purchase (refer to CNET for current prices). Disks are expensive – approximately $10 each.

Backing Up to CD-RW DISKS

Each CD-RW disk holds 600 Mb (or more depending on what drive you buy). This backup process is the fastest of your three options. Run the backup program that accompanies the CD-RW drive. Follow the backup program’s documentation about how to “select”’ which files are to be backed up and how to “save” the selection so that you can re- use it every time without having to re-think the file selection. Be sure to label and date the disks when finished. They can be reused and re-labeled for future backups. Keep at least two disks in a rotation. Reuse and re-label the oldest one each time.

Pros: Faster than ZIP and requires fewer disks (each disk equals 600 or more floppies). Disks are inexpensive – approximately $1 each.

Cons: May require purchase (refer to CNET for current prices).

Full System Recovery
In the event of a hard drive failure or a fatal virus attack, it is possible to restore your PC to exactly the way it was when your last regularly scheduled backup was done. Not only your data files, but your desktop settings, start menu, programs menu, browser settings, etc. will be perfectly restored. This is only possible IF you performed the backup according to our instructions above. If so, proceed as follows in the sequence specified:

1. Replace your hard drive, or have it repaired. It will now be empty.

2. Setup your computer to its original factory configuration. Call the vendor for assistance. Usually new computers arrive with a special CD for restoring your computer to its original factory settings.

3. Re-install any additional software from the CDs that you have added since the computer was purchased.

4. Restore and re-install any software that you paid to download. The original download file should have been backed up when it was first installed (see “Adding Software” above). You can now restore these as single files into the “My Downloads” folder and then install them (i.e., open them). This is done by running the same program you used to create the backup in the first place, except now you choose the RESTORE option.

5. Restore everything (full restore) from your most recent regularly scheduled backup. This is done by running the same program you used to create the backup in the first place, except now you choose the RESTORE option and opt to restore everything to its original location. 6. Re-download and re-install the software that you had downloaded for free. The web sites should have been bookmarked when you did the initial download (see “Adding Software” above) and these bookmarks have now been restored in step 5 (above).

7. Perform the WEEKLY, MONTHLY and QUARTERLY maintenance requirements (see Required Routine Maintenance above).

8. Re-create your anti-virus emergency diskettes. Now your computer is exactly the way it was before the crash.

In the past two years we have developed and refined the procedures described above. Adhering to these will minimize the likelihood of a hardware crash, keep your PC in peak performance and eliminate the irrecoverable loss of valuable data or files.

John Dalton & Nancy Baer own and maintain http://www.AllAboutYourOwnWebsite.com, a “Complete Guide to Creating and Managing Websites” – Visit our website any time to learn about the seven (7) steps involved with website design and development.

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