Windows System Restore

For some odd reason, it seems that not a lot of people have heard about this feature.  It isn’t heavily advertised, but it can save your tail.  Windows incorporates a files catalog system that keeps track of versions of files.  This allows you to turn back your system to a past time.  This is somewhat similar to Mac’s time machine feature.  Why would you want this feature?  Well, just imagine this scenario.

Let’s say that you had recently installed a piece of software.  This piece of software was free and it came loaded with other software.  Now, this other software was really spyware.  It introduced tracking systems and a barrage of pop ups.  In fact, the onslaught was so severe that you couldn’t really use your computer.  Trust me, I’ve seen this happen.  Be careful about what type of free software you install.  This is especially true of those free screensavers or smilies.

Now, if you click on the start button, and go to “All Programs,” “Accessories,” “System Tools,” and “System Restore,” we can get started.  Once you do that, it will ask you if you want to restore to a previous time or create a restore point.  You want to restore your system to a previous time.  The next screen will present you with a calendar.  This calendar will have bolded dates on it.  These are the days that you can restore back to.  They contain restore points.  Now, you may say that you didn’t create these restore points, and you would be correct.  Your system automatically creates these for certain events.  These can include installing new software, new hardware, etc.  In any case, your system will now run through restoring your system.  This will include a system restart.  This process does not delete your documents.  It only affects installed software.  Here are some screenshots:


USB Flash Drive Letter Problem

Windows XP has some strange effects on USB flash drives. I had a friend who had been using his USB drive for a long time. Then one day his USB drive wouldn’t appear on his Windows XP desktop. Nothing had changed, as far as he could tell. The computer would see the drive when he plugged it in, but then it would go blank. When he tried to find it in “My Computer,” it wouldn’t appear.

I found that kind of bizarre, so I decided to check it out. The first thing that I did was go to disk management. You can go there by doing this:

Right clicking on “My Computer” goto “Manage” –> “Storage” –> “Disk Management”

Now, I saw his drive.  For some reason it seemed like the mapping to the drive letter was getting screwed up.  Then it dawned on me.  Maybe he had mapped a drive.  So, I checked out his mapped drives and found a low letter one.  I think it was E: .  I removed the mapped drive, removed the USB drive, and plugged it back in.  Voila, now XP saw the drive and assigned it E: .  So, the moral of the story is that it seems like XP wants to assign the USB the next drive letter after physical drives.  The problem is that you may have a mapped drive on that letter.  If you remove the mapped drive and remap it at a higher letter like Z:, then it should take care of the issue.

Manually Backup Outlook .Pst File

I have had many conversation with folks after they lose their outlook .pst file.  It’s not pretty.  Some lose years of contacts that they have acquired.  And what about those important emails?  Well, if you don’t keep the messages on the server when you download them (it’s a setting within outlook), then you will have lost all of them.  Don’t get caught in this predicament.  Of course, I would love it if you backed up more than just the .pst file.  But if this is all you want to backup, let’s walk through that really quick.

The first thing you need to do is find the .pst file.  The .pst file stores all of your Outlook information.  The easiest way to find it is to search for it.  Sure there are other ways to do it, but I think this is easiest.  Click on “Start” in the lower left hand corner.  Go to “Search.”  Now, you need to allow the search to find hidden files.  Click on “All Files and Folders” on the left.  Now, click on “More Advanced Options” on the left again.  Make sure “Search Hidden Files and Folders” is checked.  In the “All or Part of the File Name,” at the top enter *.pst .   This will search for all documents with .pst at the end.  You should see some listings appear in C:Documents and Settings…  You want to look for Outlook.pst .  Every once in a while, it’s not this file, but named something else.

Look for the file that is the largest and have the latest date on it.  Again, it’s usually Outlook.pst .  You want to put that on a flash drive, CD, etc.  That’s really it.  You have backed up Outlook.

Quickly and Easily Backup Firefox

One of the suckiest things to have happen to you is to lose all your bookmarks. I have had this happen and it is painstaking to put all those back in. You might be surprised to learn that backing up Firefox is not too hard. There are some manual ways to do it and some automated ways to help. One thing to keep in mind is that manual backups are very hard to sustain. We usually get busy or forget about them.

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Reinstalling Windows XP

There are many reasons to reinstall an operating system. Sometimes folks forget to update their virus definitions, get a virus, and find themselves without an operating system. By the way, an operating system is something like Windows XP. It is the software that runs on your computer. It allows you to run applications like Word. Also, try this post if you are getting an unmountable boot volume message.

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Computer File Systems Explained

My guess is that you are here because you are either completely and utterly bored or you are extremely inquisitive. Okay, add the list obsessive compulsive. File systems aren’t something that most people want to know about unless they love learning about technology. But we can make this learning process much easier. It seems that for technology there is an endless line of technical people ready to make it even more complicated. Let’s not do that.

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RAID Explained

If you haven’t worked in the tech field, you probably haven’t heard of RAID systems. A RAID system is simply a redundant array of inexpensive disks. Boy, that helps. Alright, let’s put that in plain English. A RAID system is simply a way to connect multiple hard drives to provide data redundancy and or data performance increase. This allows us to have more failsafes, or better performance, than simply one drive. So, for instance, this would allow you to continue, or repair, system functioning if one of the drives failed. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

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Online Computer Backup Solutions

If you haven’t heard about Internet 2, you will. Internet 2 is going to revolutionize the way that we use the internet. Just to pique your interest in the link above, I will throw out a stat. It would take you 30 seconds to download a movie on Internet 2. Pretty unbelievable huh. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about online backup solutions. These solutions are poised to make the big time when speeds like Internet 2 hit the big time.

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Simple Backup Strategies

I know, backing up your computer is # 1,387 on your list of to do items.  I can understand that, I really can.  But trust me, you want to back up your computer.  I had a friend lose 3 years of digital family photographs when his laptop died.  That was really painful.  Yeah, he looked at me and said, “Yeah, I know, you told me so.”  Don’t get caught in that situation.  I am going to give you some different backup strategies.  These are mostly geared toward the home user, but could be used for some small businesses.

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My Hard Drive is Clicking

Your hard drive is a precision instrument. Not only that, but it’s a precision instrument that is mechanical. That means that there are plenty of ways for it to fail. That is why I harp on backup strategies. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a personal computer, small business, or corporate giant. All of these have important data to back up. You probably have pictures and tax documents that need backing up. Small businesses have client documentation and financial data. Corporate giants have all that and more.

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