Archive for January, 2011

Preparing for a Disaster Recovery

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Backups are the insurance policies which allow the user or his/her system administrator to recover from critical system errors. Backups can be performed in a number of different ways to a number of different hardware devices including external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, tape or, in even larger networks, system libraries. Backups can even be completed over the internet to off-site facilities that specialize in data storage. No matter what configuration is used, there are basically three types of backup methods:
Full Backup
As the name implies, all files and data are backed up to some type of medium. This process is the most complete however it also takes the most amount of time.
Incremental Backup
This backup process only backs up those files that have changed since the last backup. During the process, the archive attribute on each file is removed signifying that the file has been backed up or archived. This provides subsequence backups the ability to continue the process and only archive those files that have been changed.
Differential Backup
This backup process only backs up those files that have changed since the last backup. In this method, the archive attribute is not changed on the file. This ensures that subsequent backups back up all files that have changed since the last full backup.
Setting up a backup
Windows allows the user to easily set up backup routines. In Windows XP there is a backup program, although you may need to do some digging to find it.
If you use Windows XP Professional, the Windows Backup utility should be ready for use. If you use Windows XP Home Edition, you’ll need to install the utility:
1. Insert your Windows XP CD into the drive and, if necessary, double-click the CD icon in My Computer.
2. On the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen, click Perform Additional Tasks.
3. Click Browse this CD.
4. In Windows Explorer, double-click the ValueAdd folder, then Msft, and then Ntbackup.
5. Double-click Ntbackup.msi to install the Backup utility.
Start the Backup
By default, the Backup utility uses a wizard that makes the process straightforward. To start Backup:
1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup to start the wizard.
2. Click Next to skip past the opening page, choose Back up files and settings from the second page, and then click Next. You should see the page shown below which represents your first decision point.
Decide What to Backup
You might be tempted to click All information on this computer so that you can back up every bit of data on your computer. Think twice before choosing this option, however. If you’ve installed a slew of software, your backup could add up to many gigabytes. For most people, the My documents and settings option is a better choice. This selection preserves your data files (including e-mail messages and address books) and the personal settings stored in the Windows Registry.
If several people use your computer—as might be the case on a shared family PC—select Everyone’s documents and settings. This option backs up personal files and preferences for every user with an account on the computer.
If you know that you have data files stored outside your profile, click Let me choose what to back up. This option takes you to the Items to Back Up page.
Select the My Documents check box to back up all the files in your personal profile, and then browse the My Computer hierarchy to select the additional files you need to back up. If some of your files are on a shared network drive, open the My Network Places folder and select those folders.
This option also comes in handy if you have some files you now you don’t want to back up. For instance, I have more than 20 GB of music files in the My Music folder. To keep my data file backup to a reasonable size, I click the check box next to the My Music folder. This clears the check box from all the files and subfolders in My Music.
Decide Where to Store Your Backup
On the Backup Type, Destination, and Name page, Windows asks you to specify a backup location. By default, Backup proposes saving everything to your floppy drive (drive A). Although that might have made sense 10 years ago, it’s hardly a rational choice today. You’d need dozens, perhaps hundreds of floppy disks to store even a modest collection of data files, especially if you collect digital music or photos. Instead, your best bet is to click Browse and choose any of the following locations:
• Your computer’s hard disk. The ideal backup location is a separate partition from the one you’re backing up. If your hard disk is partitioned into drive C and drive D and your data is on drive C, you can safely back up to drive D.
• A Zip drive or other removable media. At 100-250MB per disk, this is an option if you don’t have multiple gigabytes to back up. Unfortunately, the Windows Backup utility can’t save files directly to a CD or DVD-RW drive.
• A shared network drive. You’re limited only by the amount of free space on the network share.
• An external hard disk drive. Consider getting a 250 GB or larger drive and dedicating it for use as a backup device.
After you’ve chosen a backup location, enter a descriptive name for the file, click Next to display the wizard’s final page, as shown below, and then click Finish to begin backing up immediately.
Set a Schedule for Your Backup
When you get to the final page of the Backup Wizard, don’t click Finish. Instead, click the Advanced button, and click Next to open the When to Back Up page. Choose Later, and then click Set Schedule to open the Schedule Job dialog box.
After you click OK to save your changes, Windows XP runs the backup automatically. Just remember to leave your computer turned on.
All in all, you can count on backing up 5 GB of data in as little as 10 minutes.
Other Backup Options
The Windows Backup utility is free but it’s not your only backup choice. Depending on your preferences, you can choose all sorts of third-party backup solutions. For instance:
• Want to back up your e-mail and nothing else? Try OutBack Plus 4 or the Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup Utility if you use any version of Microsoft Outlook, or use OE Backup for Outlook Express. These programs specialize in helping you keep safe copies of your messages and addresses.
• Want the option to restore your entire hard drive in case of a crash? Drive imaging tools like PowerQuest Drive Image 2002 can take a virtual snapshot of your disk, compress it to a single file, and save it for quick recovery later.
• Worried that fire, flood, or theft will wipe out your backup copies along with your computer? Consider paying a few dollars a month for online backup alternatives like,, or where you can upload your most important files for storage on a secure server.
Bott, Ed. “Windows XP Backup Made Easy.”

Geek Speak Seminars

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Free Computer Basics Seminars

Deciphering the Geek Speak and Understanding Your Computer

Are you baffled by your IT department when you ask a simple question?

Would you like to actually understand a little more about how your computer works?

Throughout 2011, Tim Grier, the owner of CET Computer Repair and Training, an adjunct Computer Engineering instructor at Mitchell Community College and former high school Computer and Electronics teacher, will be conducting free seminars to try to help demystify your computer’s inner-workings.
The geek-speak that many IT people use is both a learned response from their social peers and a defense mechanism when questioned by non-geeks. While the terminology used by telephone tech support advisors and on-site techs is proper, it often baffles most people. Tim will try to decipher it all for you. Come and find out what a NIC does, what the CPU is, why RAM matters and why anyone would be interested in your Cookies.

What: Free Computer Basics Seminars
When: The 4th Monday of the month, January – October, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Where: The Merchant Room, Charles Mack Citizens Center, Mooresville, NC
RSVP: Mooresville Chamber Office, 704-664-3898

Jan 24th – “What’s That?”: A Quick Tour Inside Your Computer
Feb 28th – “Microsoft’s Windows et al”: Operating Systems
Mar 28th – “How Your Computer ‘Thinks’, Not”: Processors and Memory
April 18th – “The Computer’s ‘Central Nervous System’”: The Motherboard
May 23rd – “Where’d My File Go?”: Mass Storage Devices
June 27th – “Input…..”: Peripheral Devices
July 25th – “*&^%# Microsoft!”: Working with Windows Part 1
August 22nd – “What the &^%#!”: Working with Windows Part 2
September 26th – “Computers Talking to Computers”: Networking
October 24th – “Did I Download That?”: Hazards of the Internet

Mooresville Computer Repair Classes

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Today was my first free seminar on Computer Repair in Mooresville. It was well attended and everyone enjoyed the information on the hardware on your computer.


This was the 1st of a series of seminars I’ll be leading every 4th Monday from 3:00 – 4:30 at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville. I look forward to seeing you next month.

Tim Grier