Backing Up Your Work

The most important thing you can do to safeguard your data is to back it up! Yes, it can be time-consuming. Yes, it is a hassle. But the most valuable thing isn't the computer itself, but the data on it. Re-creating data is not easy, and in some cases is not possible. Say, for instance, that you store all your chapters for your next great book. Can you re-create them? Say, as another example, that you store all your contact information about your company on your computer. Can you re-create that data from a hodge-podge of business cards you might be able to round up?


Another important security issue is protecting your computer while using the Internet. Internet security issues are covered in Chapter 8, "Browsing the Internet."

You take for granted the accessibility of your data. Take your Address Book. With it, you can easily send email to all your friends, colleagues, and relatives. Without it, do you really know all the email addresses in that simple file by heart?

That's why backing up your data is so critical. You should get in the habit of backing up your entire system at regular intervals and backing up your documents (data files) even more frequently.

Selecting Backup Programs and Equipment

To back up your files, you need backup media and a backup program. Media refers to the types of items you use to store your backup files. Before the hard drives on computers got so big, you commonly backed up your data to floppy disks. Now, backing up your system to floppy disks would be ludicrous (although you can use floppy disks as a quick method to back up important data files). Instead, you most commonly back up to a CD-R, CD-RW, or DVD drive. You also may purchase a special backup medium called a tape drive. You can then back up files using the tape drive.

To perform the backup, you need a backup program. The program not only performs the backup, but also provides options for selecting which files are backed up. Windows XP includes a backup program, but this program is not installed and is not easily accessed. (The program is stored on a folder on your Windows XP CD. See the following tip for information on finding this program.)

You can also purchase backup programs. If you purchase a tape backup system, for instance, it usually comes with software for backing up. Also, some utility programs (sets of programs handy for maintaining and troubleshooting your computer) include backup programs.

You can find manysometimes even freebackup programs by visiting any of the freeware or shareware sites on the Internet. Some popular programs include Back it Up, Monday Backup, Winbacker, Sysback (for backing up system files), and Backup Pro.


Finding the Windows XP backup program isn't easy because it is not listed as an optional component to install on the installation program. (Chapter 20, "Upgrading Windows," explains how to install additional Windows components.) However, you can find it by browsing your Windows XP CD. To do so, insert your Windows XP disc into the drive. You should then see the installation options. Click Perform additional tasks. Then click Browse This CD. Double-click the VALUEADD folder to open it. Double-click the MSFT folder to open it. Double-click the NTBACKUP folder to open it. Finally, double-click the NTBACKUP setup icon to install the Windows Backup program.

Tips for Backing Up

Here are some tips to make backing up more efficient:

  • If you don't perform routine backups, you should at least make manual copies of all your data files. You can make backups of important data files by copying them to floppy disks or to a CD drive (if you have a CD drive that can read and write data). See Chapter 3, "Managing Files," for information on copying data. You may want to compress the files first; compressing files is covered in Chapter 18.

  • Consider doing a complete backup at least once a year and before any major system change (such as upgrading to a new operating system).

  • You should do a complete backup, including your program files. Although you may have the disks to reinstall some programs, you may not have all your programs (programs you have downloaded, for instance). Also, you'll lose all your customized settings without a complete backup.

  • Back up your data files more than once a year. You might consider daily or weekly intervals. I guarantee you that the minute you think you don't need a backup will become the minute you do.

  • To facilitate backing up data files, create and store files in a solid organizational structure. You might store all data files within subfolders in the My Documents folder. You can then concentrate on this folder when creating data file backups.

    Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Windows XP
    Absolute Beginners Guide to Windows XP (2nd Edition)
    ISBN: 078973432X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 176
    Authors: Shelley OHara © 2008-2017.
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