Back it up, sir. Back it up.

When it comes to backing up data I feel a little like the Featherduster in Beauty and the Beast when she says [to Lumiere]…”I’ve been burnt by you before!”

I have several back-up solutions that I use based on my location. My primary machine at work is a Dell Latitude D520. I prefer a laptop for many reasons and do not have a desktop machine at work. My data is automatically backed up to the network. Because I’ve lived through a couple of hard drive (HD) melt downs, I like to keep an up to date image of my laptop around just in case. A Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus 1 TB drive with Norton Ghost does the trick. I get a complete image of my laptop every Thursday at 4:00pm.

My laptop is a workhorse at home as well, but for storing photos, songs, movies and the like my family uses a 20 inch iMac . Because I consider the photos and videos on the Mac irreplaceable treasures, I use a 500 GB My Book Mac Edition plugged into the firewire slot to back-up the Mac HD. I use a second 1 TB My Book Mac Edition plugged into the USB 2.0 slot to back-up both the iMac HD and the 500 GB My Book. Many people ask if that is redundant. My answer to them is “why yes, yes it is”.

Occasionally I’ll have to get creative at work as some of our systems are proprietary and do not allow installation of commercial software for back-up purposes, nor do they allow us to put the systems on our network. For these instances I utilize a flash drive plugged into a USB port and a handy little batch file using xcopy.

Xcopy is a powerful copy command that has the added capability to move files, directories, and even whole drives from one location to another. With the aid of a few extras, the xcopy command can also verify copied information, create new directories, exclude certain files and much more.

Here is an example of the syntax for a batch file using xcopy for Windows 2000 or XP:

xcopy C:\parent\subfolder1\file.mdb E:backup /e /v /d /y

The nomenclature at the end is as follows:

/e     Copies directories and subdirectories, including empty ones.

/v     Verifies each new file.

/D    Copies files changed on or after the specified date. If no date is given (like in the above exaple), copies only those files whose source time is newer than the destination time.

/y     Suppresses prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an existing destination file.

Creating a batch file is really quite simple. I personally use Notepad to write the batch file. Simply type the xcopy script in Notepad and save the file with a .bat extension (example: backup.bat).

To schedule the backup script to run on a routine basis, use Scheduler in Windows 2000 or XP (Accessories –> System Tools) and “Add Scheduled Task”. I usually set these back-ups to run at 1:00 am. It’s highly unlikely someone will be using the machine at that time.

Everyone that has dealt with data for any length of time can tell you to take your back-ups seriously. Experience has shown me the wisdom of that. Good luck.

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