VISUAL NEWSLETTER – SEP 2005           

 


BACKING UP PERSONAL FILES

 

We’ve stressed the importance of backing up personal files in several previous newsletters. This is particularly important on laptops since it is more difficult to retrieve data from a damaged laptop drive. This is due to the large number of different types of connectors that laptop hard drives often use. Most desktops on the other hand, usually employ more standard drive connectors, which makes life much easier when data recovery is required.

 

Retrieving data from a damaged laptop drive can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000. For this reason backups are essential to avoid data loss and unreasonable expenses. Backups can be accomplished using one of three common media types. The laptop can in some cases be backed up to the file server if it has sufficient capacity. This sometimes slows down the server and is best done after hours.

 

More commonly personal files are backed up to either CD-Writers or Flash Drives. If your laptop has a CD-Writer or DVD-Writer this is a good option as the media is quite inexpensive. Multiple versions can even be retained. Another faster, albeit more expensive, route is to use a flash drive. Any computer that has USB ports can use a flash drive, which makes them popular on older laptops in particular, as these usually don’t have CD-Writers or DVD-Writers installed.

 

Files that are backed up on a flash drive can be taken home and loaded onto a home computer, as well, for safekeeping. Flash drives are ideal when it comes to transporting larger files back and forth from home. Flash drives are about three inches in length and can fit in a pocket or attach to your key chain.

 

Most flash drives automatically configure as your E: drive but in some network environments you may have to reboot your computer before you can access them.

 

WHERE ARE MY FILES ?

 

The location of many personal files varies dependant on the Operating System you are using. On Windows 95, 98 & ME common files can be found in the following locations:

 

C: \My Documents

C: \Windows \Desktop

C: \Windows \Favorites

C: \Windows \Application Data

     \ Microsoft \ Outlook

C: \Windows \Application Data \Identities

     \ Microsoft \ Outlook Express

 

This covers MS-Office, Outlook and Outlook Express Files. Other software may store files in different locations so you need to tailor your backups to match those locations.

 

In Windows 2000 & Windows XP most personal files are located in private folders under the name of the user of the computer. In Windows XP Home Edition this user is often called “USER” and this will be used in the examples below. Some folders are hidden by Windows, and you must adjust Folder Options to display hidden files to see them:

 

C: \Documents And Settings \ User \

 

     \ My Documents

     \ Desktop

     \ Favorites

 

     \ Local Settings \ Application Data \

     \ Microsoft \ Outlook

 

     \ Local Settings \ Application Data \

     \ Identities \ Microsoft \ Outlook Express

 

Copying the entire User folder is not possible without using third party software, since Windows constantly uses some files in this area and this causes simple copies and drag & drop operations to fail. Specific folders and or file types must be specified to avoid this.