Backing Up Is Hard To Do

Backing up is the most important thing that can be done in any computer user’s life. Every file that you’ve had for years may not be on a backup disk. Take a look at your hard drive and imagine losing all of it. It’s a horrible thought, but it could happen.

I had never made backup disks of my information. For years, nothing ever happened to it. Some of these files were created on my old SE and transferred through each computer thereafter. As I had never lost any information from a crash, I never saw the need for backups. Then one day, that all changed.

I shut down the computer normally. Nothing strange had happened the whole day while I was using my computer. But the strangest thing happened the next day when I turned on the computer; a disk with a blinking question mark appeared on my screen. I have seen this before, so I put in the Mac OS system disk and went on my merry way.

Something was different this time, however. The hard disk icon did not appear on the desktop. Usually, when I restart with a system disk, the hard drive appears like normal and I continue working. So I ran Disk First Aid. It checked the hard drive and said that it could not repair the damage.

I realized I had two options. One was to reformat the hard drive right there. The other was to go get Norton Utilities. The former did not seem like a good idea, so I bought Norton Utilities. I ran the disk doctor and it had some horrible things to say about the disk. But it did whatever it could and told me to backup everything and reformat.

After I quit, the hard drive icon appeared on the desktop. I opened it and saw almost nothing. I opened the few folders that were there and realized that the repair did not get most of the files back. At least some of the things were there, so I closed the windows and went to get some disks to back up on to.

I came back with a whole bunch of disks that were not used and opened up the hard drive window again to take a better look around. Upon this second opening, the computer crashed. I still do not know why it did this, but it was the last time I ever opened that hard drive window again.

After the restart from the Norton disk, the hard drive was gone again. I ran Norton yet again, and even it was unable to repair the disk. I knew I had to reformat the drive. Before I did that, though, I knew I needed something better to back up on to than diskettes. I spent a couple days comparing all removable media devices. The best one seemed to be the Jaz drive from Iomega. I bought one and immediately reformatted the hard drive.

Using the unerase portion of Norton Utilities, I tried to get my files back. The problem here is that the normal file scan retrieved nothing. I did a file pattern scan, in which it finds types of files, and it gave me some files. Listed as Pict1, Pict2, etc., I became highly discouraged. I backed up the types of files that I thought might have important information in them. I also ran several text scans so I could get some of the more recent and more urgent files. A text scan searches the whole drive for the words you type in, returning files with a lot of garbage, but some text mixed in. I backed these up as well.

After this, I installed Mac OS 8, then the rest of my software. I basically lost everything on my drive. In a way, it was a good thing, because I back up every night now. I urge everyone to do the same. You can get software that will back up everything automatically, or you can do it by hand. I use the Find File to search for everything with the modification date of today. Then I sort through the list of files and copy everything that is important onto the Jaz drive. The search brings a lot of applications, preferences, cache files, and a lot of invisible junk.

Backing up has to be the most important thing you can do. You are very lucky if you have not lost any files over the years.The investment is worth the anguish of losing important files. Now it doesn’t matter if my hard drive blows up, because everything is on the Jaz disk, waiting to be copied back to another hard drive.

Brian Koponen (

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