By now, most companies have fairly good backup strategies for their company data. Accounting files such as Libra and many common company documents are stored on a centrally located file server that is routinely backed up. From time to time this strategy needs to be revisited and checked for reliability. When we have needed to restore files in the past, it was often found that the automatic backup routine was not functioning and no one was checking it or doing any other form of backup to compensate. Making sure that your backups are working and that you have at least two different backups is critical to your company if something does go wrong.


Assuming that the backup of your file server is covered, what else do you need to think about? Well for one thing are your personal files getting backed up? When asked, I always advise users to store as much as possible to the file server, but some users still store many files on their personal hard drives. Many Word & Excel files are left vulnerable to hardware failure, viruses, operating system crashes and the like. Laptop computers are often stolen and personal data files go with them. If you have no external copies of this data, itís gone.


Another form of personal information that users often neglect is their personal e-mail files. Many users set up significant filing systems to track e-mail correspondence. This information can often be of a crucial nature, but surprising few people back it up. Hard drive failure is not that common but it does happen. Operating system problems, viruses and theft can cause these files to disappear.


Recently, several individuals have had their e-mail mailboxes corrupted. Using some software tools that I purchased on the Internet I was able to recover some of their e-mail but a large amount of it was just lost.Personal backup strategies do need to be considered.




Most personal files such as Word & Excel are usually located in the My Documents folder. Under Windows 95/98/ME this folder was located off of the root of your C: drive. In Windows 2000 & XP there is a folder called Documents And Settings, which has sub folders for every user of the computer. Under each user name there are a number of personal folders including My Documents.


E-mail files are located in different places dependant on the e-mail program that you use and how it was installed. Outlook Express stores its files with a .DBX extension. They are located in a sub folder of Windows in versions 95/98/ME and under Documents and Settings / Username / Local Settings / Application Data / Identities in Windows 2000 and XP. Backing up the entire User folder covers most bases in this case. Microsoft Outlook uses the file OUTLOOK.PST. This is also located under the User folder in Windows 2000 & XP. Address book files are located in the same folders.


If you are using other e-mail programs such as Eudora, Mozilla and the like, the mailboxes may be located in a variety of different places. Should you choose to back them up, you will need to locate them. Then itís a simple matter to copy and paste the appropriate folders to the backup device of choice. This may be a personal folder on the server, a CD-RW disk or simple USB Memory Stick. This procedure can even be automated to run at night for those that donít like to remember to backup.


Windows features like System Restore are only used to restore programs and Windows components to a prior state. They do not backup any files in the Documents and Settings area. Other than simple copy and paste methods, you can purchase backup programs such as Backup Plus to perform these backups. They can also be configured to backup your file server at the same time.