The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M. for
distribution to NAPM affiliate newsletters.
Back Up or Die
Lessons learned from a
Yep, even the best of us sometimes have
system problems. Here are a few suggestions and lessons I leaned when my system
crashed a few weeks ago.
I don't know if it was a virus or a errant
program (I think it was a (X*&^%%$ dumb program). Either way, when your
system starts acting funny, files not found, very slow to close and open,
programs acting strangely, it's time to consider cleaning house.
Even if it isn't a system crash, after a
few years of loading programs, updates and incomplete program deletions, you may
decide the best solution is to completely erase, reformat and reload your hard
drive. It's a time for careful reflection, but sooner or later you've got to
push the FORMAT button. Before you do that, be prepared.
- For every program you install and intend
to keep using, make sure you have the original installation disk(s) AND
the key codes. Store them all in a safe place and keep the codes where you
can find them! I was amazed at how much time I spent just trying to find all
the disks and codes. It took me almost an hour to figure out that the system
code for my PC was pasted on the bottom of my PC!
- Obviously, you should back up all of
your data files on a regular basis. A backup that's a year old, is a year of
your computing life lost. I keep all of my data files on a separate hard
drive as well as on regular backups. This was a lifesaver. When it came time
to erase the hard drive I knew all of the data files were still safe
- Change the options in Word, Excel,
Outlook, etc. to store your user files, address books, email messages, in
the same place. This makes the backup and restore much easier. Even if you
have to move to a new computer, you still have a life. I have a folder
called Mikedata and subfolders for mail, correspondence, web files, Quicken
data, etc. Outlook is the worst. Unless you carefully configure your
personal folders, all of your address books, message folders, etc are stored
in the same place as the Windows system. They're history!
- My computer came with a complete system
restore disk. This made it easier, but it still took me almost 12 hours of
work to reload programs. When you buy a new computer, make sure you have the
disks you will need to restore the system.
- As you download program updates, bug
fixes, security upgrades, etc. from the internet store the downloaded files
in a backup folder or else you'll have to go back and find them all
- Make sure you have a boot disk. In
windows go to the CONTROL PANEL> ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS and create a startup
disk. Make sure it will boot up your computer AND make sure it is set up to
start the CD player so you can use CDs to load programs. Test it! Too late
to create it after your system crashes. I suggest giving yourself a new boot
disk as a birthday present each year. (Right after you check the batteries
in your smoke detector)
O.K. That was the easy part. Here's what I forgot.
- Save your collection of Favorites
from Internet Explorer. I used to have links to web help sites and all of
the places where I could download system and software updates. In Internet
Explorer go to the FILE menu > IMPORT and EXPORT. Follow the wizard to
export your favorites to an HTML page. Then save the exported file along
with the rest of your data files. If you crash, you can go to the same place
to import the file and reconstruct your favorites.
- I spent a lot of time looking for
passwords. If you let the system remember your passwords (for browsing the
internet, updating web sites, accessing programs, etc.) take the time to
create a written file somewhere you can find it. It's surprising how quickly
we forget, if we don't need to retype them on a regular basis. It's obvious
now, but anything you let the computer remember for you can be lost in
CYBERSPACE. DANGER WILL ROBINSON!
- Speaking of the Internet, take the time
to make screen prints of your dial-up Internet settings. Go to the MY
COMPUTER folder and open the DIAL UP NETWORKING folder. Open each dial up
connection and print copies of each tab. Get copies of the phone numbers,
passwords, network settings, DNS and servers, modem settings, etc. If
you can't dial up the Internet, you can't go to the help sites to figure out
what's not working or even find the phone numbers for your software
- If you manage a web site(s).
Download a complete copy of the web site, including graphics files and put
it in a safe place. Don't forget passwords, login information, IP addresses,
URLs, administrator help files, etc.
- When I started the install process, I
was amazed at how hard it was for me to gather all the disks in one spot and
find all of the KEY CODES needed to prove I was the proper owner. Now they
are all in one spot. Next step is to make a backup copy and keep it
somewhere else. That way, if the house burns, my copies don't get toasted
with the originals.
- If you make the decision to start over……..
Count to ten….. Check the backups and copies…. Don't rush into it.
Unless you are very lucky, FORMAT is forever. Make sure you are prepared
- Reload the operating system and all of
the hardware first. Get the scanner, camera, sound and whatever else,
working properly before you start on the big dogs like MS OFFICE, Publisher,
Front Page, etc. Load your antivirus program early in the process and make
sure it has the latest update so you don't reload a virus and have to do it
- AND THEN???? Go back into each program
and fix al of the settings to put the backups and data files where they
Just in case you are interested. My 12-hour
re-load problem could have been a disaster. I have over 3.5 GIG (about 14 CDs)
of programs I had to reload. That's bad, but imagine how upset I'd have been if
I had to reload the 4-5 thousand personal files or lost the thousands of email
files I have in various folders. As it turns out, I'm still tweaking personal
settings in all of the programs and I keep running into stupid problems, like
the sound card stopping the first time I used the scanner. But it could have
been a lot worse!
As an Eagle Scout, I was prepared….
just not quite as prepared as I would have liked to have been.! I'm sure you can
||MLTWEB is assembled and
maintained by Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.
and articles prepared by Mike may be shared for
purchasing education provided
that this source is cited and no fee is charged.
The rights for any other use are withheld.
Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.