Help me backup my files, please

Hello Forumosa Community!

I’m a Techno Ding Dong who is all-of-a-sudden feeling very insecure about her laptop crashing on her soon and need help with the following:

  1. Cleaning out unnecessary programs and files on my laptop
  2. Making use of my “D Partition” and filing .exe programs there?
  3. Teaching me how to backup all of my Outlook Express emails
  4. Coming up with a back-up plan for the things I need to backup
  5. Understanding why, every time I open up a Word doc., hundreds of .TMP files appear on my desktop
  6. Other general stupid stuff like the above

In a nutshell, I need for someone to sit down with me for a couple of hours at a Starbucks and help me to clean up my laptop and teach me how to backup everything without confusing me with a lot of techno jargon.

In return, I will treat you to all-you-can-eat Japanese food for dinner at a restaurant of my choice.

If you have no idea what you are doing and are just trying to get a free meal with a relatively entertaining female, YOU will have to treat ME at a restaurant of my choice, and then I’m going to tell the whole Forumosa community what happened, lol!

Okay just kidding. :sunglasses:

I’m free Mon - Wed. from 5:00-6:59 p.m., dinner at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

If interested, please post a message here along with a number where I can reach you.

Regular posters on the Technology Forum preferred. :slight_smile:

Well, I’m a techno-idiot too. But I’ve learned a bit and can still speak enough english to discuss it with my fellow human beings. Maybe the tech-heads can intervene if I’m doing something wrong or giving bad advice?

Unnecessary programs and files: Tons of’ em: You can find out how many programs start up when you press the ‘on’ button by running msconfig. Just go to your ‘start’ button, click on ‘run’, then type in msconfig.

Then go to the ‘startup’ tab. This will list all the programs that start up with Windows. I have XP, and opt to turn everything off. I do it every month or so, just to keep track of what’s going on with my machine.

There’s a really good site that gives you tons of advice on this issue:

You can also hit <alt/control/delete>to find out what’s running on your machine at any one time too. Rummage around on the above site for a complete listing of what everything does and how to turn it off.

It used to be that I showed 20-30 ‘processes’ running at any given time. These days I have around 10, all authenticated as being necessary, and nothing I don’t need.

Next, I deal with the secret stuff - all that nasty data-mining crap - using lavasoft’s “AdAware” program. The first time I ran it I had owned my machine for 3 months and it found 16 nasties that were reporting back to other people about my habits, and slowing my computer down at the same time. That kind of shit gets installed by misc websites and other ‘free’ software that extracts it’s price by making you a target for advertising.

Adaware is free too:

I run this every week or two.

Then there’s viruses. I’ve given up paying for virus protection, and opt to not open suspicious emails. SobigF got past my Norton Antivirus a while back, so I’m not going to pay for it any longer. I’m just careful, and visit Trend every week or so: - and click on ‘scan now’

It only works with Internet Explorer these days, and takes a while to load, but it seems to clear everything. Again, I run this every week or two.

Now for the ‘D’ partition. I use mine for all my MP3s and movies. One advantage of doing this is that I can continue to have music playing while the machine is doing something else with the ‘C’ drive. I dunno if moving .exe’s is a good idea because they may be looking for system info you haven’t moved and could crash. Check with those better qualified than me, but I keep ‘D’ for my personal data only.


Computers need to defragment regularly. If you create a lot of data, or download stuff like I do, then your drives quickly get full of bits and pieces of files. It spends all its time looking for the fragments.

Defragmenting sorts all the bits into proper files where A follows B, instead of being scattered all over your drive. If your computer is not wasting time looking for stuff then it can concentrate on doing whatever you asked it to.

So defragging is a good idea. I try to do it weekly.

The first time I did it, after a year or so of owning the machine, it took virtually forever. Then someone told me to empty my recycle bin (D’Oh!!, right click on it!) and use the ‘cleanup’ function to get rid of unnecessary crap by right-clicking on the drive icon. It still took a long time afterwards, but things improved.

If you have C and D drives you can make life even easier:

First cut and paste as much data as you can from C to D. Don’t copy. This doesn’t help. MOVE the file. The computer will pick up all the bits and pieces of the files you move, and lay them down in the right order on the other drive. Now you have tons of space on C, and nicely ordered files on D.

Then run defrag - you can find it through your start menu, or you can right-click on the drive you want to defrag. (Click on ‘properties’, then ‘tools’.) Defragging can take time when you first do it, and sometimes it kind of gives up. Even with XP I had to run defrag twice recently to reshuffle some big files.

Defrag won’t run properly if you have less than 15% of any given drive still available. Another good reason for shuffling files around!!

Sometimes I shift files from one drive to another to facilitate defragging, then move them back. Most commonly this will be part-downloaded movies, files of up to a Gigabyte, scattered all over one drive. Tidying them up does wonders for my peace of mind, if nothing else. They start downloading to C, get dumped onto D, come back to C to finish downloading, and finally get transferred to D - or another drive - once finished.

So there you are, virus and spyware free, with all your files tidies up. What next??

I have nothing to say about Outlook, as I don’t use it.

Now to external drives.

I bought a plug-in Hard-drive last year when my old laptop was starting to struggle. It has a USB connection. You just plug it in, and it shows up like all the other drives on your machine.

I copied EVERYTHING I had collected over the years to it, and was able to successfully transfer all my data to the new machine when the old one croaked. These days I regularly copy everything in my ‘my documents’ folder, plus all the music and movies from my ‘D’ drive. This is not a real ‘backup’, but it preserves almost everything I need in an easily accessible form.

There is some ‘system’ information I would hate to lose - such as email, PDA files etc. - which is not preserved by this method, so I also do a proper backup using the facility provided. It dumps everything onto the plug-in drive, but is limited in size to 4Gb. As my music is bigger than that, without even mentioning movies, the backup crashes if I leave those files in ‘My Documents’.

Keeping them on the ‘D’ drive obviates the problem, but I have to remember to periodically copy them from D to the plug-in. No biggie.

The other stuff you mentioned sounded kind of unaddressable, and as I don’t drink coffee or like 'japanese food very much…

I’ll leave it to others more competent than I


As far as backing up files, do you have a CD burner (CD-R or CD-RW drive), or if your HD is large, a DVD±R(W) drive?

I try to keep my C: partition pretty much empty (yeah, right) and keep any data files, documents, email, and so on on the D: partition. That way, I can make a clean backup of C: once in a long while (basically, whenever I install more software) and back up my data on D: on a quasi-regular basis.

Keeping everything vaguely organised is important to your long-term backup plan.

BTW, as far as Word goes, what version and what OS are you running? I’ve never noticed it creating more than one temporary file, but then, I use Word97 on Win98.

Have you updated your antivirus definitions and cleaned your drive lately?

I’m a Mac user, but I have a Windows machine that I use from time to time. I need to backup everything on it regularly, but don’t want to get super-techy in how I do it. Investing in Windows security and organization is a loosing and time-consuimg battle, so I look for the easiest and lowest-tech way to get the job done:

I bought an external (self-powered) USB/FireWire (IEEE 1394) CD-R/RW drive. I simply pulg the baby into the USB or FireWire port and burn the following every month at least:

  1. All my files.
  2. My exported bookmarks (“favorites”) from IE.
  3. My exported mail/contacts/notes/tasks/calendar from Outlook.
  4. My exported rules and accounts from Outlook.
  5. Any backup installers for software I bought/downloaded over the Internet.
  6. My fonts from the fonts folder.
  7. My exported cookies from IE … if I have settings in my cookies I’d like to keep.

I backup multimedia files, like MP3s and videos separately, as they take up more space.

Although many towers and laptops come with CD burners these days, I still keep my external CD burner around. It comes in handy as I can hook it up to any computer at any time to perform backups.

I use a CD-R/RW from the following company:

You could also use a DVD-R/RW, but that is getting more expensive, although it can hold up to 7 to 8 times more data as a CD-R.

DVD±R(W) drives (basically, all modes) are under US$200 now, or around US$260 as an external USB2 box. Not sure what Taiwan prices are like, but it has definitely gotten into “affordable” range.

I saw some of the older 4X drives going for NT5500 a couple of months ago, probably a bit cheaper now. You can pick up an external USB2 box for about NT1500 if you don’t like opening your computer. If you don’t have (or aren’t sure you have) USB2, don’t go external. USB1 is NOT fast enough for DVD-R. Most places in Taiwan will install your drive for you on the spot if you bring your computer in with you. (oops, re-read the original message, and noticed you have a laptop, so you’ll need external. If your laptop doesn’t have USB2, you can get a PCMCIA USB2 card for around NT750.)

You don’t need to get the latest model. As long as it does 4X, it’s good enough. (If 4X seems slow, remember that DVD 1X is about the same as CD 9X, so DVD 4X is roughly the same as CD’s 36X) The newer drives are multiformat meaning they can do both DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW formats. Unless you have some special preference, either format is good enough. I have a Pioneer DVR-A05 which is 4X DVD-R/RW and has been very reliable.


Don’t buy the cheapest media!!! The cheaper media has two major flaws: most are only 1X speed which means burning will take 1 hour per disk, and they also tend to be crappy quality. I’ve had up to half of the disks not even burn properly with the cheaper media. Get a good quality 4X rated media. I like Ritek 4X DVD-R. The brand name Riteks go for around NT50 each, and Ritek-made 4X generics with a gold label go for NT40 or less.

These prices are for the small hole-in the wall stalls at Kuanghwa in Taipei. 3C stores will sell the same stuff for NT60-70. Ask around for the gold-label Ritek 4X and they should know what you want. I can recommend one where the staff speaks good english if you need it.

No you’re not, Christine.

OK, was running low on DVD-Rs and craving Subway sandwiches, so I decided to take a trip to Kuanghua today. There’s a variety of 4X DVD-R or DVD+R drives available in the NT4000-4500 range. At the media stall I usually shop at brand name 4X Ritek DVD-Rs were going for NT45 each and generic 4X Ritek DVD-Rs were NT38 each. If you buy in larger quantities you can shave the price down a bit more.

By the way the gold label generic Riteks were out of stock, so I ended up with some by CD Square with a butt-ugly red and yellow label.

I’d be delighted to help you out. I have some time on Wednesday.

I’ll settle for a double cappuccino and a piece of cheesecake! :slight_smile:

As a matter of interest, are you running XP or Win98? English or Chinese?

You can PM me here or leave a message on 0916232848

HEY… you guys totally KICK ASS!!

And so does this website!!!

I go away for a few days and come back to find this, WOW. Thanks so much for everyone’s input, I shall bookmark this page. Great advice there, and hey KenTaiwan98, I shall take you up on your offer! I’ll send you a separate message, but just wanted to thank you guys for the great information, especially stragbasher!

I use XP and have a built-in CD burner on my Sony laptop and have burned files to it once before, but I am one of those people who just needs an “expert” to sit with me and make sure I do everything correctly, a security blanket if you will.

(fee… I AM a techno ding dong, I swear!)

Once I get into a routine, I’ll just follow it, but if you want me to try and mess with my computer files by myself, forget it. I’ve done serious damage to my previous computers thinking “it can’t hurt”.

In any case, thanks again guys!!! This is awesome!