All too often, irreplaceable files
that represent hours of toil are gone forever when your hard disk decides
to take a dive for any number of reasons, including a viral infection.
While our PCs appear to have superior
intelligence and incredible capabilities, they are only machines that eventually
breakdown. Unless your work is backed up, months and years of effort can
be instantaneously vaporized.
Backing up your work, in its simplest
form, is merely copying your files to an external source, such as a floppy
disk, so that in the event of a disk crash, your files can be restored
without any loss of data or downtime. Never has copying files to a diskette
been easier than in the Windows 95 operating system.
Start the Win95 file management program,
Explorer, and locate the data folders, My Documents, for example, on the
left side of the screen. Click once on a folder, to display its contents
on the right side of the screen, and you should easily spot your dissertation
or mailing-list files, for example. Place a diskette in your floppy drive
and simply click the right mouse button on a selected file, choose the
Send To option and select 3 1/2 Floppy A:
It's just that easy to copy files to
a diskette. To copy all the files in a folder, choose Edit, Select All
from the menu bar or press Control+A to highlight all the files in a folder.
Click the right mouse button anywhere in the highlighted list and choose
Send To, 3 1/2 Floppy A: If the selected files exceed the capacity of a
1.4 MB diskette, you'll be prompted to insert as many disks as necessary
to complete the copy operation.
Users of Microsoft Office products
will find the Send To option available as well from the Open File and Save
File dialog boxes, allowing you to copy work to a floppy diskette without
ever leaving your application or using the Windows Explorer. This is the
easiest way for beginners to start developing good backup habits.
Intermediate users should take advantage
of the Microsoft Backup utility that comes with Windows 95. This utility
is licensed from Colorado Backup and enables backups to any external drive
on your system. This program resides in the Accessories folder in a group
called System Tools. You'll also find this option located in the Properties,
Tools menus of drive C: in My Computer. (If it's not on your system, you
can add it from the Windows Setup menu). Unlike the simple copy command,
a full-fledged backup program utilizes data compression technology, thereby
requiring less space to backup large files.
From Microsoft Backup you can choose
to fully back up your system, or you can create your own sets of selected
files and save the file sets for ease in future backups. Backing up your
entire system is a Herculean task, but you should probably do it once.
After that, simply backing up your data files regularly should suffice,
especially if you have your original programs and software in a safe place.
Many of today's programs, especially
financial packages, have built-in backup and restore utilities integrated
into their software. Users of Quickbooks and Quicken will readily recognize
these options and should be backing up their work after every session to
insure data safety and accuracy.
New computer shoppers should strongly
consider including a secondary-storage device such as a Colorado tape-backup
system or perhaps an Iomega Zip drive with their new PC purchase. Given
the size of today's hard disks and program files, these larger-capacity
storage mediums make good sense when it comes to backing up files and work.
Whether you utilize a full backup utility
or simply copy files to your A: drive, take responsibility for your precious
work and perform backups regularly. The time invested now will pay off
later, averting serious anguish, headaches and heartaches.
Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company,
Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached
by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the
Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com.
for past archived columns.