Windows XP / Networking

Backing Up Data to Removable Drive Cartridges

Removable drives are terrific backup targets. You can use them with Microsoft Backup or with the Send To command (or by clicking your way through the files and folders in Windows Explorer if you like to do things the long way). You can use a removable drive for backing up, and it does not have to be attached to your computer. Remote drives (drives that are attached to another computer on your network) also work just fine.

Using Microsoft Backup with removable drives

Microsoft Backup works beautifully with removable cartridges. If you are using a Jaz drive or another large-capacity drive, you can probably back up everything on your computer. If you are using a Zip drive, you probably have to be more selective about the files you are backing up because you have less space. Make sure that you back up all your data files, and if any room is left after that, you can back up some of your software folders. This is especially useful for software you have configured, tweaked, and manipulated until it is just perfect.

You can do a full backup on a cartridge that is smaller than the amount of hard drive space that you are using as long as you have extra cartridges. The backup software tells you when it is time to put another cartridge in the drive.

Using Send To with removable drives

You can use the Send To command that appears when you right-click a folder or file to copy that folder or file to a removable drive. You just looked at the Send To choices, and you don't see a removable drive as one of the options. You are right, it is not on the Send To submenu. Would not it be handy if it were? Well, go ahead and put it there! It is not hard to add a removable drive to the Send To submenu. Just follow these steps:

  1. If the removable drive is on your computer, double-click the My Computer icon. If the drive is on a remote computer, double-click the Network Neighborhood (or My Network Places) icon and then double clicks the icon for the computer that holds the drive. The icon for the removable drive appears.
  2. Right-drag the removable drive's icon to the desktop. A menu appears when you release the right mouse button.
  3. Choose Create Shortcut(s) Here from the menu. The shortcut appears on the desktop.
  4. Drag the shortcut to one side of the desktop. This step is important, because you need to see the shortcut after you open the Send To folder window.
  5. Choose Start → Run, and then type sendto in the Open text box and then click OK. The Send To folder appears on your screen.
  6. Drag the shortcut from the desktop to the Send To folder. The removable drive is on your Send To command list.

Now you can select folders or groups of files and use the Send To command to copy them (back them up) to the removable drive.

Backing up data on tapes

Zip drives may be all the rage right now, but the capacity of tapes is usually much larger than any removable drive cartridge. Tape systems vary widely in price, starting at several hundred dollars and increasing to thousands of dollars for business systems.

You can also use Microsoft Backup to back up to a tape drive if your tape drive is supported by Microsoft Backup. Check the documentation that came with your tape drive.

One disadvantage of using tapes is that they wear out. The edges fray, the tension disappears, and an assortment of other problems can show up. Tapes are not as durable as the cartridges for removable drives. So protect your tapes by keeping them in sealed boxes, away from moisture and direct sunlight.

The following basic guidelines for getting the most out of your tape backup system:

Verify the backup
Select the option to verify the backup, which means that the software makes sure that the copy of the file on the tape matches the file that is on your hard drive.

Always configure the backup software to include the registry in your backup files.
That way, if you have to restore everything, you also restore the registry. The registry is a database that keeps track of the configuration options, software, hardware, and other important elements of your Windows system. In Windows XP, this backup option is named System State.

Pay attention to the configuration options available in your backup software.
Remember that you are likely to need the tape to restore files if your hard drive dies. Therefore, if the software presents an option to put a copy of the catalog on the tape, select that option. (The catalog is the list of folders and files that you backed up.) The catalog on the hard drive dies with the drive. Although the software will re-create the catalog by reading the contents of the tape, this process takes a long time, so a preloaded catalog on the tape saves time.

Clean out the catalogs
Many backup software programs keep copies of every catalog. These copies take up a lot of hard-drive space, so do some hard-drive housekeeping and get rid of the catalogs that you no longer need. When you record over a previous catalog, you can get rid of the original one.
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