Creating a Backup Strategy to avoid Disaster

Organize your data so it is easy to back up. 

You want all your data files (e.g. Word documents, Excel documents, email, etc.) to be in folders that are all inside a single folder on your hard disk. Windows provides you with a folder named “My Documents” designed for this purpose. In Windows 95/98/ME there is a single My Documents folder shared by all users while Windows NT/2000/XP creates a separate My Documents folder for each login account.  Backing up the “WinNTProfiles” folder in NT 4.0 or the “Documents and Settings” folder in Windows 2000/XP will back up the My Documents folders for all users if you are logged in as an administrator.

Many programs default to saving files in the My Documents folder and programs that can’t can usually be set to do so. You will probably want to create new folders under the My Documents folder to keep data from different applications or projects separate. You may need to read the documentation to learn how, but you should set each program to open documents from and save documents to the appropriate folders you have created under the My Documents folder. If you do this consistently you will know where all your data is on your hard disk and won’t accidentally miss backing up important data.

Choose what device you will use to back up your data.

The most common devices to back up data have been tape drives, zip drives and flash drives. More recently, CDRW drives (CD read/write drives) are being used for backups. Your decision will be based on how much data you need to back up, what devices you already have that could be used for backups, and whether or not you can purchase a new backup device.

The least expensive devices are Iomega zip drives and disks. Zip disks come in 250MB and 100MB sizes. You must buy a zip drive designed for 250MB disks to use 250MB disks. All zip drives can work with 100MB zip disks. Zip drives come with software for backing up data to zip disks or you can copy the folder that all your data is under (“My Documents” or “Documents and Settings” to a zip disk if it will all fit.

Jaz drives come in 1GB and 2GB sizes and are similar to zip drives but are bigger and cost more. They use the same Iomega backup software as zip drives. You can also use DVD disks which are 4.7gig in size.

CDRW drives can be used like a 650MB floppy disk when using CDRW disks and packet writing software that comes with the drive. The disks you create will be readable only on other CDRW drives or CDR/DVD drives that support the multi-thread standard. All drives capable of reading CDRW disks require software to be installed that supports reading CDRW disks. You should use software that supports the UDF standard (most current CDRW packet writing software does) when writing files on your CDRW drive and install UDF reader software on computers with multithread CD or DVD drives that you want to read CDRW disks. Drives with early implementations of multithread may not be able to read CDRW disks even with UDF reader software installed. Free UDF readers are available from Ahead Software and Roxio. CDRW drives may come with backup or disaster recovery software but you should look carefully at the software bundled with a CDRW drive before purchasing it. billi taps

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