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Re: Backup

Bill Troop correctly noted that real hard drives "have been both so
reliable, fast and cheap that they are themselves becoming their own best
backup option."

Absolutely! For a few years I have had the backup problem *solved.* Here's how:
For 30 bucks, you can get a plastic hard-drive holder that fits inside your computer's drive bay and attaches right to the IDE cable and power cable on your motherboard. Then it accepts *any make* 3 1/2 inch hard drive, which just shoves in to its "mouth" from the outside. You can't hot-swap, but you shut down, insert the second hard-drive (itself in a smaller plastic holder so it will fit securely and connect to the cables), then boot up. Then you can back up at IDE speed, which is as fast as there is.
When you are done, shut down, pull out the second hard drive, and put it
away somewhere safer than inside your computer, if you like. Or: just turn
the key on the plastic gizmo to shut off power to the second hard drive
(requiring a reboot) and leave it in situ, but protected. You can have a
third or fourth hard drive too, since drives are only about $125 each.
Probably you already have a few old hard drives lying around.
If you can't find this $30 gadget, I'd recommend just feeding your IDE
cable and your drive power cable right through you case and just attach a
naked drive. Cut a hole in your case, if you have to. Computers and hard
drives are NOT delicate.

A few tips for optimizing:
1. Use your largest hard drive (probably your newest one) as the backup drive. The backup drive will, over the months, accumulate stuff that you have erased from your main drive, so the backup drive should be bigger than the main drive.
2. To make the backup, I run a DOS batch file, using xcopy32 to preserve
long filenames. xcopy32 has some switches--e.g., to keep it going past
"errors" (which are not really errors, just non-copyable files, like the
swap file). I'll put in the batch file below, with comments (after each "rem").

echo off rem this prevents the batch file itself from flashing by on your screen
c:      rem makes sure you are logged onto c:
cd \     rem logs on to your root directory
echo --this is important because this will delete all .tmp files!!! rem that deletion is optional (see below) pause rem the pause here gives you a chance to abort if you haven't shut down some programs
        rem the next 4 lines delete things that are just clutter
del /s kill*.* rem I use filenames beginning with "kill" to name my own temp. files del /s *.bak rem removes .bak files--I don't need to back them up
del /s *.tmp
del c:\net3.0\program\cache\m0*.* rem deletes cached web-pages; your path will differ xcopy32 c:\*.* /c /e /d d:\ rem THIS IS THE ONLY REAL COPYING PART--it copies only newer files, to drive d: date > d:\today rem this puts the file "today" onto the backup drive, with the date of this backup

Harry Binswanger