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Don't Flirt With Disaster--Back That Thing Up

November 23, 2000|JEFF LEVY |

Over the years, I have developed three rules for safe computing. They are:

1. Back up your work.

2. Always back up your work.

3. Make sure you always back up your work.

Backing up is the single most effective way to protect your important data from virus attacks or system crashes. Once a virus hits or a hard disk crashes, your data might no longer be available to you. Here's what you should know about how to back up your computer.

Windows 98 has a backup program available on the Windows 98 CD-ROM. In most instances, the Windows backup program is not installed on a new computer. Look at your computer to see whether the program is installed. Click on Start and then on Programs. Click on Accessories and then on System Tools. One of the options under System Tools will be Backup.

If Backup is not listed, you can install it yourself. Here's how.

From the Desktop, double-click on My Computer and then on Control Panel. Double-click on Add/Remove Programs and then click on the Windows Setup tab. Scroll down to and highlight System Tools.

In the Description section, you'll see the number of installed components. For example, you might see "5 of 10 components selected." To the right is the Details button. Click on the Details button to reveal all of the available choices. Click in the box just to the left of Backup. Click OK. Windows might ask you to insert the Windows 98 CD-ROM. If your computer came with Windows 98 pre-installed, type C:WIN98 as the location Windows should use to find what it needs to install the Backup component. Click OK to finish.

To use Windows Backup, click on Start, then on Programs, then on Accessories and then on System Tools. Now click on Backup. The Microsoft Backup program will ask you whether to create a new backup job, open an existing backup job or restore backed up files.

You can choose to back up your entire hard drive, or you can select particular files and folders. The files and folders you select to be backed up are stored as MyBackup.qic. You can assign a name or title to each backup job you create and use that title to run that same backup again.

Although the Windows 98 backup system works, it is a bit simplistic and clumsy to use. There are two after-market backup software programs that might work better for you. The first is Drive Image 4.0 by PowerQuest. The program can copy backup files directly to CD-R and CD-RW drives. It works with Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, Windows 2000 Professional and Linux. The software sells for $69.95 and is available in stores and at

The other backup program I like is called Second Copy 2000. This program works with Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT and Windows 2000 Professional. You can back up your files to hard drives, Zip or Jaz drives and also to CD-R and CD-RW drives. You can set Second Copy 2000 to run backup profiles when you start your computer or at preset intervals such as every hour or when you shut down Windows. If you select backing up at timed intervals, this software will run the backup profile in the background while you are using the computer. Second Copy 2000 is easy to set up and use. It costs $29.95 and is available at

The bottom line here is that backing up is vital to surviving the computer experience. Don't flirt with disaster. Back up your work.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640).

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