Archive for the ‘Do This’ Category

Backup Part 1

February 2, 2006

In an emergency or a disaster the worst plan of action is to not have one. We carry spare tires in our cars, we have smoke alarms in our homes, and our children carry cell phones for emergencies. We plan and prepare for things that can go wrong that often never do. Yet the minute your child forgets his/her cellphone, their tire pops on the freeway and the spare is flat. We’ve all heard Murphy’s Law:

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Your Home Computer is no different. The digital photographs of your family and friends, your financial records, and the e-mail messages your sent and received over the years all constitute valuable data on your computer. If you do not have a plan to recover it, something is certain to destroy it.

Its time to understand What, When, and How to backup the data on your Home Computer.

First, let’s answer the question – What to backup? You’re going to want to backup the files that cannot be easily replaced. Your pictures, financial records, and e-mail all fall into that category. The programs on your computer, can be easily replaced because you recieved installation discs when you purchased the software. You won’t need to back them up.

Ed Bott, Microsoft Press Author and Expert Zone Community Columnist explains the backup file selection process in his article entitled, Windows XP Backup Made Easy

Windows XP makes this task especially easy by giving every user account its own personal profile, which consists of a set of subfolders in the Documents and Settings folder. Your profile holds your personal files (in the My Documents folder), Outlook Express e-mail messages, Internet Explorer Favorites and cookies, and information about your settings and preferences. If you have personal data stored elsewhere, consider moving it into the My Documents folder to make backing up easier. If you’re unwilling or unable to move those files, make a note of where they’re located so you can be sure you add them to your backup set later.

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Windows Update

January 16, 2006

Windows Update is a free service provided to owners of Microsoft Windows Operating Systems. The service offers a way to download and install security fixes and software improvements (often called patches) onto your home computer. If you are concerned about securing your home computer, you must familiarize yourself with this service.

Security updates from Microsoft are released on the second Tuesday of the month. Make sure your computer has the latest updates installed. You can set Windows Update to automatically install or notify you that updates are available. To configure your Windows XP Home Computer, choose Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Security Center -> Automatic Updates.

Window Update Control Panel

Windows Update Automatic Updates

Then, select the best option for your needs. I prefer the option that reads “Notify me but don’t automatically download or install them”. I want to know about all software that gets installed on my home computer. You can choose Automatic (recommended). However, I think you are granting someone else an enormous amount of trust.

Windows Update Settings

When you are notified that new updates are available, read about them, download them and install them. Do *not* leave your Home Computer unpatched.

Port Scan

January 14, 2006

When you leave your home you lock the doors and windows, right? Your Home Computer has somthing similar to doors and windows called Ports. These ports provide communication “doors” into and out of your computer. Its important that all of your computer’s ports are secure.

Run a Port Scan to check your computer now. Are you Secure, Closed, or Wide Open?