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Get IT Done: Make crash recovery trouble-free with these Windows 2000 tips

Tips for recovering from a Windows 2000 system failure


If you run Windows, you’d be lucky to only face one system crash in your lifetime. The key to surviving the inevitable OS meltdown is preparation. It's important to have the right recovery tools as well as backups of all your critical files. Prepare for the worst by making an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) with Rdisk and backing up your important documents with Windows 2000's Backup utility. Here’s how.

Use Rdisk under Windows 2000
Windows 2000 did away with the Windows NT Rdisk utility, which on Windows NT systems creates a backup on an ERD of your system's critical files: Autoexec.nt, Config.nt, and registry files. Rdisk can also create a backup copy of the registry in the %systemroot%\Repair folder, which you can use to restore the system in the event of a corrupted registry or other major problem. Microsoft replaced Rdisk's functionality with features in Windows 2000's Backup utility. For example, you use the Emergency Repair Disk wizard from Backup's Welcome page to make a backup copy of the registry and create the ERD.

You can still continue to use Rdisk in Windows 2000 if you wish to back up the registry and create a repair disk. However, you need to copy the Rdisk.exe executable to your Windows 2000 system(s) from an NT system because the file doesn't exist under Windows 2000.

Rdisk compresses the registry files to make them fit on a diskette, although in many cases the registry is simply too large to fit on a diskette—one of Rdisk's failings. You can use the Windows 2000 Repair process to restore a system using an ERD created with Rdisk, although you'll need to manually expand the registry files from the diskette if you need to restore the registry. To save time, create a batch file to expand the files.

Use alternating backups for document protection
Windows 2000's Backup utility offers one really useful feature for helping you protect and back up your files on your personal workstation: the ability to back up to a file. You can back up to a file on your local hard drive, a floppy drive, or network share. This means you don't have to have a tape drive installed in your system to make periodic backups. For example, you should consider backing up your My Documents folder and any other folders that contain documents you can't afford to lose.

When you back up to a file, you have the option of appending to or replacing the backup set, just as you do with tape media. If you choose to replace the backup set, Backup overwrites the previous backup data in the file, if any. If you choose the append option, Backup adds to the set instead. The result over a period of time could be a really large backup file containing many multiples of the data.

You typically don't want to use the replace option with a single backup set, because a problem with the backup process could leave you with no valid backup. Rather than use Append and end up with a huge backup file, create multiple Backup jobs that each use a different file and use replace for the backup operation. For example, create a different backup job for every day of the week, with each backing up to its own backup file using the replace option.

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