A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Friday, March 18, 2005

Lost in Transition?

Reading about Mike's problems with hard drives and data loss in "To Computing Heroes" made me think about happened to my own home PC last year. I leave my PC on pretty much 24/7 at home, but last year we went to Florida for 2 weeks and so I switched it off while we were away. When we got back, I switched it back on again so I could upload the photos that we had taken, but when it started up I got the dreaded "Non system disk in drive C:" message. The system disk was completely dead. I had to go out and buy a new disk and do a fresh install. The only backup I had was on my second hard drive which I had taken by copying our My Documents' folders onto it, about 3 months earlier. I lost quite a few documents, and (more importantly) my wife lost 3 months progress in The Sims !

After that I went out and bought a external firewire hard drive, the Maxtor One Touch, and I now regularly use the Backup tool built in Windows XP to back up my entire PC onto it. I had already been using Windows Backup at work to back up my laptop onto spare space on my desk PC's C: drive (I'm paranoid about losing stuff now), but when I tried to use it at home I couldn't find it on the Accessories menu.

It turns out that it is installed as part of XP Professional, but it is just left in a folder on the install CD of XP Home, so you have to manually install it if you want to use it. It's a really easy to use tool and it's fast as well (it uses Volume Shadow Copy if you're interested in that kind of stuff) - I fully recommend it.
Here's a good introduction which also explains how to install it for XP Home.
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