Backing up your data

Greetings one and all and welcome back to another exciting adventure with The Weekly Geek!

In this brief article we will go over the ever important and whimsical idea of backing up your data.

Since, I have worked both for businesses and in the private sector as a hired gun, I know how many of you don’t back up and why. If you lose your data I am sorry and for a large fee either I or a company with a sterile room can get it back for you. If you would rather keep your cash in your pocket or retirement account I greatly encourage you to BACKUP YOUR DATA!

I have written articles and even an entire section of Chapter 1 in my book just on backing up. There are dozens if not hundreds of web sites that have “How-To” on backing up and they all have one thing in common, complexity. Yes, even though I believe in KISS method when it comes to backing up, I too have made it a little too difficult. As a result of my shame I plan on presenting the most basic steps that WILL WORK right here for you.

The quick steps are backup your “My Documents”, “Favorites”, “Desktop” and e-mail. Now, let’s take it one step at a time.

In this example I am using Windows XP. We will be backing up your data only once. Other versions of Windows will be similar to this. As I have time, I will write their step-by-step backup for you. I will also write an article on how to have your computer automatically run the backup for you.

To see if the Windows backup program is installed go to the lower left of your screen and click on the “Start” button, now click on “All Programs” then “Accessories” and finally “System Tools”. The list is on alphabetical order so if you do not see “Backup” you do not have it installed.

Windows XP Home Edition did not install your backup program by default (Pro and Media Center Edition do install it for you). Fortunately Dell, Gateway and others did have their versions install it for you.

Get out your Microsoft Windows disk and put it in your CD player. If your CD tries to run and install Windows simply cancel it out by clicking on the “X” in the upper right corner of the new window. If you bought a pre-built system (such as Hewlett Packard or Compaq) you might not have a separate Windows disk, it might be part of a “System Recovery Disk” or on a “System Recovery Partition” on your hard drive. If this is the case simply ignore the “insert your disk” part of the following text and continue on.

Next you will need to open up Windows Explorer, to do this press the “Windows” key (located between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the keyboard) and the “E” key at the same time and then immediately release both of them.

If this seems to complex, go to “Start | All Programs | Accessories” and then click on “Windows Explorer”.

On the screen that appears navigate the left window pane by clicking on the “+” (plus) signs for the CD drive, then the “VALUEADD | MSFT | NTBACKUP” folders. Double click on “NTBACKUP.MSI” (listed on the right hand side) and run the wizard.

Now that you have the backup program installed of if you already had it installed let’s continue.

You need to click on the “Backup” button (again back at “Start | All Programs | Accessories”) to begin the program. This will bring up the “Welcome to the Backup or Restore Wizard” Simply click on the “Next” button to continue.

If you have a window with a message stating something like “Removable Storage not running” simply click on the “OK” button and continue.

On the new page make sure “Backup files and settings” is selected and once again select “Next”.

This next window is where you are presented with several choices. Make sure “Let me choose what to back up” is selected then select “Next” to continue.

Here is where we get to select what files and or folders to backup. In an effort to KISS we are going to go over the basics only, you may want to modify based on how many files you have in “My Music” or if you use a program that puts files in different folders.

First of all click the check box next to “My Documents”.

Now click the “+” (plus) symbol next to “My Computer” to expand it, click the “+” next to “Local Disk C:” and once again next to “Documents and Settings” (you may need to use the left/right slide bar to see these folders).

Now look for your user name (there might be several names or only one). Click on the “+” by it.

Now you want to place a check mark in the box next to “Favorites” and “Desktop”.

Finally we want to save your e-mail. If you use a web mail such as Yahoo or Hotmail just skip over the next two indented sections, otherwise let’s continue.

If you are using Outlook Express click the “+” next to “Local Settings”, “Application Data”, “Identities”. There will next be a mixture of numbers and letter between this type of brackets { }. Click on the “+” beside them and then the “+” by “Microsoft”. Now place a checkmark next to “Outlook Express”.

What, “Local Settings” is not there? Well let’s fix that right quick. Open “Windows Explorer” as we discussed earlier, across the “Menu” bar select “Tools” then “Folder Options” from the drop down list. Next you need to click on the “View” tab of the new window that appears. Look for “Hidden files and folders” and place a mark next to “Show hidden files and folders”. Select “OK”, then close “Windows Explorer” and go back to the backup window, it should be there, if not “cancel” out of the backup and start it again.

If you use Outlook, click on “Local Settings” and then click on the “+” next to “Application Data”, then the “+” next to “Microsoft”. Don’t forget to use the left/right slide bar to view these folders. Look for the “Outlook” folder and place a check in the box next to it.

Once you have selected your e-mail folder, “My Documents”, “Favorites” and “Desktop”, you should be ready to continue.

Select the “Next” button at the bottom of the screen. This will take you to the “Backup Type, Destination, and Name” page. Here we need to select where to backup to.

This is why I loved ZIP drives, now we have several choices based on your particular PC, if you have a thumb drive (also called a flash drive or USB pen drive) you can backup to it HOWEVER I do not recommend that you do so a backup should be a permanent storage. If you have an external hard drive or networked computer you can backup to it. If you have a DVD or CD burner you can format a CD-RW or DVD-RW and use it, I will leave that up to you.

Regardless, select the “Browse” button and when asked to put a floppy in press “Cancel”.

You will be brought to a “Save As / Save In” page, select your destination (the CD-RW, Zip et al). Change the name of the backup (located at the bottom of this page) to MMDDYYBackup, this is Month, Day and Year format so you can easily tell when you last backed up. Finally click on the “Save” button.

You will be brought back to the backup window you were at previously, click “Next” to continue.

Now click on “Finish” to begin the backup. When it finished you will need to click on the “Close” button.

There is much more that can be done, you can schedule backups, make different types (differential, incremental, normal, daily and more) here we are just KISS (Keeping It Seriously Simple). If you want depth, feel free to order my book on “A Novice Guide to Optimizing and Tweaking every PC”.