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Last time I said I wouldn’t want to scare the pants off you talking about security and backup but here I have decided I would… scare the pants off you and talk about backups, that is.

The reason? I had a call from someone I know who had asked an ‘expert’ to fix something on his computer and do a ‘tidy up’. As a result, the ‘expert’ deleted all their files! Another reason is a while ago I was happily working on my computer each day until one morning I switched it on and …nothing… just a blank screen, dead as a doornail, as they say! (not sure why they say that as doornails were never alive, but whatever) So,to save yourself from the experts,or your computer,or you on a bad day, we need to talk about backups.

Instead of shivering in the dark at the prospect of downloading some obscure backup software that will likely go out-of-date or you’ll forget what it was when you need it most. i.e.when your computer screws up, blows up or you threw it out the window and now regret it.Instead I will tell you of a very basic command you already have on your computer called ‘xcopy’. It has been around before Bill Gates invented ‘Windows’ (sic).

You could use a‘Cloud’ storage offering such as Dropbox etc (I will talk about them at a later date) but normally they give you limited storage but anyway, you left the username and password on that dead computer!

Just follow these easy steps: -

You’re going to store the xcopy command you’re going to create on a USB stick or Disk you already have.If you haven’t a USB stick, they are quite cheap, so buy the largest you can find (especially if you’ve loads of photos etc.)

(If you can’t be bothered to copy all this down, you can find the complete file on the GPN website at: www.gnosallparishnews.com/geek)

Go to the Windows icon on the taskbar>Start>Windows Accessories folder.

Click on ‘Notepad’ or just type in notepad from the searchicon. This is a very basic text editor.

Type the following into Notepad.

On the first line:-

@echo off

This will hide all the ‘xcopy’ commands and only show you the files (if any changed) being copied.

Then type on the next line: -

xcopy %userprofile%\documents \backup /D /E /I /G /R /Y

(make sure you copy exactly and get the and / right!)

This will copy all your documents to a folder called backup on the USB drive, the ‘/D /E /I etc’, you don’t really need to know but one makes you copy only the files that have changed, which is very convenient and fast, so it won’t keep you standing around while your coffee goes cold.

You can do the same with your pictures on the next and so on: -

xcopy %userprofile%\Pictures \backup\pictures /D /E /I /G /R /Y

Often forgotten, but you may well save your current files on your desktop so…

xcopy %userprofile%\desktop \backup\desktop /D /E /I /G /R /Y

and if you use Internet Explorer (still?) then save your favourites (notice the American spelling of ‘favorites’ in the command): -

xcopy %userprofile%\favorites \backup\favorites /D /E /I /G /R /Y

or if you use Chrome: -

xcopy “%userprofile%\AppData\LocalGoogleChrome\User Data\Default\bookmarks" \backup\chrome /D /E /I /G /R /Y

(there’s a space between ‘User’ and ‘Data’)

If you have ITunes…

xcopy %userprofile%\Music\itunes \backup\music/D /E /I /G /R /Y

At the end, add another line, to make it stay and not disappear off the screen: - 


Note: you cannot ‘see’ the ‘Appdata’ and ‘Favorites’ folders unless you click ‘show hidden files’ on file explorer/view menu. It doesn’t matter

though; it will still copy them.

If you save the file as ‘backup.cmd’ on the drive you own, purchased or borrowed from someone when they were not looking; you’re ready

to go!

That’s the difficult bit over with, all you must do now is every time you want to backup… (i.e. practically every time you use your computer!)

open ‘File Explorer’ and click on the ‘backup.cmd’ file you’ve just created and it (should!) throw up a window and copy all your files to the

‘ackup’ folder on that drive.

Email me if you have any queries at web@gnosallparishnews.com

…until next time when I will scare you even more by talking about security! 

Ask The Old Geek

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