How To Get Ready To Back Up Your Hard Drive

::: by blues :::

PLEASE DON’T follow this advice! I tried it myself and it turned into a train wreck. (Some of the ideas may be of interest, though.)

Backup folder conventions (Windows and Linux):Some users will not know the meaning of a few of the terms used here, but that should not be a problem.For Windows, an Indispensable Administrator User account, say “User-a”, must always be available to manage the operating system. There should also exist a Limited User account, say “User-b”, for everyday use, which is far less susceptible to malware infections, since it cannot be used to install most programs. Most ordinary data files should be in the Limited User account, which is easy to access. Avoid using the “All Users” account, which can be excessively difficult to access efficiently.(Note: Moving all established data into a Limited User account may require too much effort in older or heavily used systems. But new data should probably be set up in the manner described here to simplify back-ups.)Note: It is not known to be safe (particularly on Windows systems) to have more than 255 characters in any given entire path! (One could lose some data.)

Abbreviations that may be used:

• “Pcl” stands for “Parcel”. Parcel folders contain backup data. Parcels can be very large, or very small pieces of data. (Example: “Pcl130906-1-Pt13”).
• The date and the “-1” at the end of “Pcl130906-1” indicates the name of the parcel itself.
• “Pt” stands for “Parcel Part”. I would suggest that the size of each parcel part should be from about 650MB to no more than 695MB (always “trust” the largest file-size number shown in any “Properties” dialog box).
• “Saved” stands for “Saved Parcel Part” (already backed up). It is followed by a number “xx” to indicate which particular disk it is to be copied to. The second part “-xxxxx” is a random string that allows the folder name to remain undetermined until a final decision about which particular disk it is to be copied to (indicated by “xx”) is decided after the parcel parts are divided up (to avoid mixing up any names).
• “UnSav” stands for “Unsaved Parcel Part” (not already backed up). “Saved” should be renamed to “UnSav” after a backup has been completed, but “-xxxxx” (that is, the actual random string) should remain intact.
• “Final” stands for “Final Parcel Part”.
• “N-Fin” stands for “Nonfinal Parcel Part”.
• “Desc” stands for “Description”, indicates start of a description line in a “description path” that does not contain backup files. This easily shows what is within the corresponding parcel folders. (This is easy to see when the folders are opened.)
• “DevDrvPtn#-X-Y-Z” stands for “Device”, “Drive Unit”, Drive Partition”. The “X” names the computer or unit the drive is in, the “Y” names the whole drive, the “Z” names a partition on the drive.
• “Usr#” indicates an individual user.
• “Ltd” indicates a limited user (for Windows).
• “Adm” indicates an administrator user (for Windows).
• “Cat#” indicates data categories.
• “Val-” indicates the relative importance of the data, rated from 1 to 9.
• “Dummy.txt” prevents paths from terminating in empty folders.
• “BkupInf.txt” prevents paths from terminating in empty folders. May contain the text of this schema.
• “Cont” stands for “Content”. It indicates the data contents directory of a parcel part.
• “T-mp” stands for “Temporary” (but not to be automatically deleted). It indicates an extra “temporary parcel” that allows for flexibility during sorting. It’s probably best to place the oldest files and folders in the lowest numbered parcel parts.

When arranging parcel parts, make each parcel part between about 650 and 695 megabytes in size (able to fit CDs), or less if convenient; that is currently a reasonable maximum size.

Here are examples of insertable pre-fashioned path strings (for backups) (illustrated for Windows) (BE SURE to insert them into the original paths (series of folders) to maintain file priviledge security). The “description” path is inserted with its coresponding folder path to easily show what the folder path contains without using a string that exceeds the 255 character limit:

C:\Documents and Settings\User-a\Pcl130724-1\Pt01_UnSav-11-e3Aqy\Cont\ Dummy.txt
C:\Documents and Settings\Usr-a\Pcl130724-1\Pt01_UnSav-11-e3Aqy\Desc_Final_DevDrvPtn#-Dell-MastrDr-Win1_Usr#-Adm-Peter_Cat#-Pics-Vids_Val-7\BkupInf.txt
C:\Documents and Settings\User-a\Pcl130724-1\Pt01_UnSav-11-e3Aqy\T-mp\Dummy.txt

Below are some pre-fashioned template strings for insertion into appropriate paths (be sure to insert them into the original paths to maintain file priviledge security) (The second part “-xxxxx” after “UnSav” should immediately be filled with a random five character string to prevent the attempted insertion of “same-string” paths; comprised of the “easy-to-read” upper and lower case characters plus numerals, such strings can provide 47^5 = 229,345,007 combinations).

I use the “PWGen” program with the “<easytoread>” Character set, from And 12 character passwords (they will have upper and lower case letters and numerals). Its Windows, but works well with Linux’s Wine.

Pre-fashioned template strings for insertion into appropriate paths (be sure to insert them into the original paths to maintain file privilege security):




Easy-to-insert directories to form path strings (directory or folder names are placed between the “$$” pairs “$$….$$”):

$$Pclyymmdd-1$$ $$Pt01_UnSav-xx-xxxxx$$ $$Cont$$ $$Dummy.txt$$

$$Pclyymmdd-1$$ $$Pt01_UnSav-xx-xxxxx$$ $$Desc_Final_DevDrvPtn#-Dell-MastrDr-Win1_Usr#-Adm-Peter_Cat#-Pics-Vids_Val-x$$

$$Pclyymmdd-1$$ $$Pt01_UnSav-xx-xxxxx$$ $$T-mp$$ $$Dummy.txt$$

Some “Desc” strings may be followed by “N-Fin” (for “non-final”), but at least one will be followed by “Final”.

There will be three path strings in each backup location:

1) The “Cont”, or content path string that inserts a named folder before the files and folders that are to actually be backed up. This is the only path that actually contains large, backed-up files and folders in the actual backups.

2) The “Desc” string that will make it easy to read a description of the information that is held within the folders that are preceded by the “simple” path string. It contains only a very tiny amount of data.

3) The “T-mp” string that will make it easy to “shuffle” and organize the backup files and folders prior to backups. It contains only a very tiny amount of data after the backup data has been organized.

All three of these three path strings should remain after each backup; but the date in their names should be returned to “yymmdd” so as to alter Windows shortcuts or Linux links as little as possible.

Simply begin inserting the “empty template” backup folders into folders that typically exist in the computer.

Non-system personal data files and folders may be moved into backup folders with modified paths, and allowed to remain there for future backup convenience; but not system, and not program-requisite files and folders, which must not be moved, only copied (if desired). (Some of these are data files and are very important to save, however.) The non-system personal data files and folders can be permanently moved into modified-path backup folders; however Windows shortcut files or Linux link files would need to be modified to accomodate the new folder locations.

When you back up, rename “yymmdd” to the current date, back up, then revert to “yymmdd”. And “Saved” should be renamed to “UnSav” after each backup job has been completed, but “-xxxxx” (that is, the actual random string, for example “e3Aqy”) should remain intact. Nonetheless, do make a list of any “special” path changes that are made during new backups.

Everything will remain organized. You can back up everything to a set of DVD-Rs, while leaving your system ready for the next backup.

This works in Windows and Linux.

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