Coly Computer Help



Back Up your Precious Data




INTRODUCTION

Back up all the data you would hate to lose when your computer crashes. Notice I said when not if; all computers crash at least once in their life. A Backup is simply a copy of your precious data files.

Windows has an integral program called Backup , but don't use it. It is user un-friendly, and it refuses to restore files to a different version of Windows. Use the Windows XP built-in CD writing program or a proprietary CD writing program. Or just copy the data/photo files to a USB pen drive.

Floppy DiskBack up media: A floppy disk will accept 1.4MB (about 60 average letters). Warning: Your next computer will probably not have a floppy disk drive.

CD or DVD diskA CD-R or CD-RW will accept 650MB (26,000 documents or 200 average digital photographs).
A DVD-R disk will accept 4.6GB (about 1,400 average digital photographs). Good quality CD-RW disks can be used but they are not quite as permanent as CD-R disks.

If you have only a few files to back-up, then use floppy disks (if you have a floppy disk drive) or a USB pen drive. If you have a large number of files, and the those files are vital (such as accounts or tax records), use a CD-R because floppies are not safe enough. A floppy disk's contents can be corrupted by age, exposure to heat, strong sunlight, or electrical fields given out by speakers, printers, monitors or telephones.

CD disks can deteriorate if they are scratched, or exposed to dust, heat or strong sunlight. Keep them on edge or flat and preferably enclose them in plastic cases in a cool dark cupboard. Be sure to label them carefully. Never let them lay on an uneven surface as they may develop a bend and then explode when you run them.

A Pen drive (flash drive or thumb drive) can be used to:
(i) store data and photos
(ii)  transfer files to another computer.
The pen drive USB pen drive must not be removed from a computer without first turning the pen drive off as follows:- In the Notification Area (bottom right of desk top) you will see a small grey icon with a green arrow on it. Click it. A message will appear saying Safely remove Storage Device. Click the message. When a balloon pops up saying Safe to Remove Hardware, remove the Pen drive. See the end of this column for pen drive backup method.

Install a second hard drive: Some owners back up to a second hard drive in their computer, a good solution if you need to back up a very large quantity of photos and/or music.

Use an external hard drive: which is a portable hard drive which plugs into the computer by means of USB connector. A good solution if you need to back up a very large quantity of photos and music and you don't want to open up the computer.

Viruses and Pen drives: A Pen drive (Flash drive or thumb drive) when used for backing up files can be infected if your  computer has a virus (particularly if it has a Trojan). Before backing up, scan the computer for viruses. If you don't do this you could pay someone to remove the virus from your computer then re-infect the computer by inserting the pen drive. The same precaution must be taken when backing up to a CD.

Scan your pen drives and backup CDs to ensure they are not infected. A virus can be removed from a pen drive but not frorm a CD. An Infected CD must be destroyed.

Back up emails and the email address book:
Otherwise, typing all your email addresses into a new hard disk or a new computer can be quite a chore. See below for instructions.

Remember that you cannot back-up programs, you can only back-up data that you have created.

How to back up your files and folders

Backing up to a CD-R or CD RW disk: Two methods are available
    (i) Use the Windows XP built-in CD writing program.
    (ii) Use a proprietary CD writing program such as Roxio or  
         Ahead Nero.

For CDs or DVDs intended to play on a TV recorder/player see the 'How To' article named CD/DVD.

The Windows CD writing program:
This has limitations but it works well for simple copying. It cannot copy to DVD disks and it is very awkward at copying music files.
Do not insert a CD-R or CD-RW disk at this stage. Open your My Documents folder. Hold down the Ctrl key and click each of the files and folders you wish to back-up. If you accidentally clicked one that you did not want to back up, hold down the Ctrl key and click the file/folder to deselect it. Now Right click one of the selected files/folders and click Properties. This will tell you whether all the selected files/folders will fit on the CD-R or CD-RW disk. If the total size of the folders/files exceeds the CD-R or CD-RW disk's capacity then you must decide which folders/files to exclude from the back up. Hold down the Ctrl key and click the files you wish to exclude form this back-up. Check the total size again, when you are satisfied you will see that all the remaining files/folders are tinted blue. Now Right click any one of the blue tinted files/folders then click Send To on the pop-up menu. On the next fly-out menu, click the CD writer drive. The files/folders won't be written at this stage they will be copied to a temporary folder and you will see a balloon saying at lower left saying You have files waiting to be written to CD. Click it and you will see a folder full of icons referring to the files you selected for back-up. These icons are shortcuts to the copies and not the actual files/folders. They will each have a little black down-arrow to show you that they are only shortcuts. On the blue panel on the left under the heading CD Writing Tasks, click Write these files to CD. The CD Writing Wizard will appear. Enter a name and/or the date to identify the CD and click the Next button.
Insert a clean CD-R or CD-RW disk into the CD writer drive and follow any subsequent screen instructions. When the files are copied to the disk, click the Finish button and wait for the CD to be ejected. Re-insert the CD and check its contents (using My Computer) to re-assure yourself that all the selected files/folders were backed-up.

Backing up with a USB pen drive
(often misnamed as memory stick)
Open your My Documents folder. Hold down the Ctrl key while you click the folders and files you wish to back up. They will turn blue showing they have been selected. Release the Ctrl key, hold it down again while you tap the C key. Release both keys. You have now stored the files and folders in the computer's RAM memory. Now plug the USB pen drive into a USB slot on your computer. A window will pop up asking what you wish to do with the contents of the pen drive. Scroll to the bottom of the list and click the yellow folder labelled Open folder to view files. Click OK. When the pen drive is open, hold down the Ctrl key and tap the V key. Release both keys and watch your files and folders being copied to the pen drive.

The pen drive  must not be removed from a computer without first turning the pen drive off like this:- In the Notification Area (bottom right of desk top) you will see a small grey icon with a green arrow on it (as you would expect the icon is different in Vista). Click it. A message will appear saying Safely remove Storage Device. Click the message. When a balloon pops up saying Safe to Remove Hardware, remove the Pen drive.

Back-up your email address book:
In Outlook Express click the Address Book button on the Toolbar. Click File-->Export. Select Address Book WAB. You will see a window titled Select Address Book File to Export to. Use the little down arrow in the Save in field to choose a suitable place to store your copy of the address book, the My Documents folder will do. Give the file a name in the File Name field ( Address Book will do). Click Save. I usually repeat this exercise and save another copy to a USB pen drive or to a CD in case the hard drive expires.

Back-up your emails:
Emails are not stored in normal folders, they are stored in database folders. The database format enables you to sort emails using various criteria such as date received, sender, etc.
The database and its contents can only be read by Outlook Express . Each email is stored as a record within the database. What you see on the Outlook Express leftmost (Folders) pane is the list of databases e.g., inbox.dbx, outbox.dbx etc. The .dbx suffix is not shown.

When backing up emails you must first find where the email folder is located on your hard disk. It is usually deep down in hidden folders, in which case the folders must be made visible as follows:
Double click the My Computer icon on the Desktop . Click Tools then Folder Options.
Click the View tab. Under the heading Hidden Files and Folders click Show hidden Files and Folders. Click OK .
In the My Computer window, double click the Local drive C: icon (or whatever is your main drive). Then open the following folders one after the other. Documents and Settings, User1, Local Settings, Application Data, Identities, {159CA733-3CC1-444E-A9B3-8E75605464A2}, Microsoft
You will now see a folder called Outlook Express.
Leave it unopened.

NOTE: the items shown in italics above will not be the same on your computer. Instead of User1 you may see your name or something similar. The string of numbers and letters in curly brackets will be different on your computer, but it will have the same general appearance. Of course none of them will be in italics in your computer.
Outlook Express stores your emails in the last folder on the list called Outlook Express. By backing up this folder you will be backing up all your Outlook Express emails.

When you have found the Outlook Express folder click it, then hold down the Ctrl key and tap the C key. This copies it into the computer's memory. Navigate back to the C: Local disk (or into your My Documents folder) and copy the Outlook Express folder into the C: Local drive (or into your My Documents folder). To so this, hold down the Ctrl key and then tap the V key. Now also copy the folder from your hard disk to a backup CD or a USB pen drive just in case your hard disk dies.

To restore your Address Book: copy the address book file into a folder on your hard drive (say the My Documents folder). Then open Outlook Express and click File-->Address Book. In the Look in field select My Documents or which ever folder you saved the address book in. You will see the address book with its icon showing an open book. Click the icon then click Open. The address book will be imported into Outlook Express.

To restore the emails to Outlook Express on another computer.
Copy the Outlook Express foldr to the new computer. In Outlook Express click File-->Import and select the type of database you will be importing. For example, if you wish to import your email messages, click Messages...   Select the program your backup files were created from i.e. Microsoft Outlook Express 6. Select the Import mail from an OE 6 store directory option. Click OK . Use the Browse button to select the folder containing your backed up copy of the Outlook Express emails. Click Next . Now select All folders to import all the emails. Click Next . Click Finish.

To restore the emails to Thunderbird on another computer.  Copy the Outlook Express folder to the other computer. Click the Menu symbol on the far right of the top menu, or click Tools on the top menu.In the drop down menu, click Import and follow the instructions displayed on the screen.

If you get the message No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open, make sure the files you are trying to import are not read-only. Copy the folder off any read-only medium (from a CD-ROM say) to a new folder within the My Documents folder. Then open the new folder and select (highlight) each  .dbx file in Windows Explorer , click each with the right mouse button, select Properties from the menu, make sure Read Only is not ticked and click OK.

Using (Ahead) Nero: You may have two versions on your computer, Nero Express and Nero Burning ROM. The latter has many more options but the following instructions cover the simpler Nero Express as most CD writer drives come bundled with this program.
Double click the Nero Express icon on the Desktop (or single click the Nero Express icon in the Start menu). Wait a moment until you are presented with the choice of things to do. Select Data and then select Data Disc . On the next window click the Add button. If you cant see My Documents in the top field, click the down arrow on the right of the field and click My Documents. In the right hand pane, hold down Ctrl key and click all the folders/files you wish to back-up. Now click the Add button. Click the Finished button. In the next window you will see all the files/folders you selected. Lower down you will see a blue bar indicating the total size of the chosen folders/files. If this is bigger than the size of the CD then delete files/folders until the group will fit on the CD. This will only remove the files from the back-up list it doe not delete the actual folder/files.
Insert a blank CD into the CD writer drive. Click the Next button. On the next window click the Burn button and wait while the burn takes place. Check the CD's contents (using My Computer) to re-assure yourself that all the selected files/folders were backed-up.

Using Roxio Easy CD creator 5: Open the Roxio program and rest the cursor on make a data CD click the long middle button labelled data CD project . In the next window, if My Documents is not showing in the top field click the down arrow on the right and then click My Documents. In the pane below that, hold down the Ctrl key and click all the files/folders you wish to back up. Then just below that pane on the central toolbar click the Add button (it has an arrow pointing downwards). The chosen files/folders will be displayed in the two panes in the next window. At the bottom of the window a bar will show whether the chosen group of files/folders will fit on the CD. If the group is too big, click any files you wish to remove from the back-up and then click the cross labelled Remove. This will only remove the files from the back-up list, it doe not delete the actual folder/files.
Click the red button labelled Record to copy the files/folders to the CD disk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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