This Help! section includes information and recommendations backing up your computer.
A virus infects your computer and Windows is no longer able to boot. Your hard drive physically fails and now need to be replaced. Do you have the tools to get your computer back up and running? Do you have your important data backed-up somehow/somewhere? How long would it take you to replace all the data you lost like your tax information?
By the time most people consider these questions, it is already too late. You can prepare for these disasters by taking steps to protect you data and back-up your system.
A back-up can be as simple as coping some files to some form of removable media like a floppy on a regular basis. This drag and drop method can be very time consuming and tend to make people hesitate to back-up on a regular basis. What good is your backup if it too old. A better choice is to use an automated solution such as dedicated backup software.
Windows XP comes with a competent backup program (ntbackup.exe), but it's only installed by default with Windows XP Professional. For Windows XP Home, insert your Windows XP CD and navigate to D:\valueadd\msft\ntbackup using Windows Explorer, and double click on the ntbackup.msi to install the program.
Despite the fact the this Windows Backup doesn't support CD or DVD drives, it is still a very effective tool. The solution is to select File from the Backup destination, then specify a location on your hard drive. When the backup is complete, drag the file to your CD/DVD recorder to burn your backup. If you want to back-up more than just your essential files, you'll soon outgrow the capacity of a CD or DVD. An external hard drive (either USB or Firewire) is hard to beat for such applications.
Another option is to use a program like Symantec's Norton Ghost to create an image file on your entire hard drive. Then this image can be saved to a DVD or a removable hard drive. If you ever need to recover your data, including your complete Windows operating system, you can use Ghost to rebuild your hard drive from the image file without having to reinstall Windows prior. The downside to using image files is that it is not made for recovering individual files, but the contents of the entire image file, which may or may not include your Windows operating system.
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