|What files need to be
backed up? We all know - or are told - that backups are necessary for recovering from the
accidental loss of valuable documents or data due either to disk failure, accidental
deletion or inadvertent corruption. We all suspect that recovery can be done quickly and
accurately when done correctly. The questions to be answered then are:
» What files (and/or programs) need to be
» When should
backups be performed?
» How should
backups be performed?
These specifications. will assure rapid and complete
recovery from any loss of data including, but not limited to, the complete recovery from a
fatal hard disk crash. In addition, we tell you exactly how to perform a complete
recovery. If you do the backups as prescribed here and the full system restore in the
order specified, you are assured that when you are finished with the restore process your
system will be EXACTLY as it was before the crash.
In fact, if you follow these guidelines, you will be able
to replicate your current PC settings on a new PC replete with the same windows settings,
mail messages, documents, internet bookmarks, desktop appearances, start menu and program
Again, Why do Backups?
Backups allow you to restore your files if any of the following occur:
Hard drive crashes and everything on it is lost. This CAN
happen and probably will at least once every couple of years. The
likelihood of this happening may be minimized by performing routine
disk maintenance but the chance of a crash is still always possible.
When a crash occurs a FULL SYSTEM RESTORE performed in the proper
sequence using your most recent regularly scheduled backup disk
(see below) must be done.
An individual file has been accidentally deleted, or has
become corrupt (unusable), or you just want to return to a previous
version of something. When this occurs a SINGLE FILE RESTORE needs to
be performed. This is done by running the same program(s) you used to
create the backup in the first place, except now you choose the
What Files or Programs Need Backup?
The good news is that very few files need to be backed up on a regular basis. Only
application data and environment or program 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 or elsewhere. If any of these
need to be restored you simply re-install the software the way it was done the first time.
The files that need to be regularly
backed up are:
C:\MyDocuments (entire folder).
Everything in this folder tree - files, subfolders, subfolder files,
everything. Program applications always ask you where you want to keep
the things that you create (e.g., WORD documents, spreadsheets,
graphics creations, photos, MS Access databases, FileMaker Pro
databases, etc.) and smart people keep everything somewhere in this
"C:\My Documents\..." folder. This makes it extremely easy to keep
data of this nature successfully backed up because everything in this
particular folder tree is backed up regularly.
All of your Windows Settings and proprietary Windows
C:\Windows\Desktop (entire folder)
C:\Windows\StartMenu (entire folder)
C:\Windows\Favorites (entire folder)
C:\Windows\SendTo (entire folder)
C:\Windows\AllUsers (entire folder)
C:\Windows\ApplicationData\ (entire folder)
Windows keeps windows type stuff in this area, as do many
applications such as Outlook Express. There are also some
\ApplicationData\ areas in the C:\Windows\AllUsers\ tree but these are
included in the step above).
C:\Windows\OfflineWebPages (entire folder)
If you happen to use the Internet Explorer offline viewing
Netscape Bookmarks (Netscape users only):
C:\ProgramFiles\Netscape\Users (entire folder)
Software Specific Data Areas:
Some applications ask at the time of their install where the user
specific data associated with the application should be kept while
others dont. Either way, you need to know where it is being kept so
that you can include it as part of your regular backups.
Example, the Eudora email program, during install, lets you
decide where you want to keep the actual user mail messages and user
account settings. We keep ours in a My Documents subfolder that we
created at C:\MyDocuments\Qualcomm\Eudora\ that by default keeps it in
its own area at C:\ProgramFiles\Qualcomm\Eudora\. Since everything in
the My Documents folder is already included in the regular backups
(see above) nothing special needs to be done with this application.
And, sure enough, whenever we do a full system restores as prescribed
all of our mail messages and folders and preferred environment
settings are restored and ready to use as if nothing ever happened.
Example, the IOMEGA 1-step backup software during install
doesnt offer the same option as Eudora. Instead, the user data is
saved in its own folder at C:\ProgramFiles\Iomega\Iomega Backup\).
Hence, you will want to include this folder as part of your regular
backups. We do and, sure enough, every time we do a full system
restore (see below) all of our IOMEGA backup settings are restored and
ready to use without the need to re-enter the file selections.
When to Do Regularly Scheduled Backups?
REGULARLY SCHEDULED BACKUPS should be done as often as is practical. A good
measure is to do so every eight (8) hours of computer use if appropriate (e.g., you enter
a lot of data on a daily basis or work on documents every day). Backups are your insurance
policy against the loss of these valuable data and/or files you decide. Note: SPECIAL
ONE-TIME BACKUPS should be done for any software that was paid for and downloaded. Put
them onto a separate backup disk and label them with any account or registration
identification. This makes it possible to re-install the software in the future, if
How to Store Backups?
Three different types of storage media may be used for your backups.
Backing Up to Floppy Disks
Suitable for 4 Mb or less of data (about 4 floppies) but can accommodate any amount. More
than 4 Mb of data prolongs the backup process and requires the use of too many floppy
disks. You need about one (1) floppy for each one (1.14) Mb of data. Run the Windows
backup program "START/PROGRAMS/ACCESSORIES/SYSTEM TOOLS/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. Select the folders/files listed above. You will know how
many floppies you will need when you are finished selecting the files because the program
will tell you how much total data has been selected. Be sure to label and date the
floppies when finished. They can be reused and re-labeled for future backups. Keep at
least two backup sets in a rotation. Reuse and re label the oldest ones 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
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
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 and browser
settings etc., will be perfectly restored. This is only possible IF you performed the
backup according to our instructions above and the recovery steps are performed in the
sequence specified here:
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
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 :C:\My Downloads\" folder to re-install them.
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
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.