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Create a RESCUE folder to save yourself from OS reinstallation nightmares

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Backing up your data is one of the most important task a computer user has to face these days and even though with the advent of popular online services like Dropbox, there’s always an err here or there which when you’re machine goes down, makes your job of making your machine work again a difficult one. You may ask, so what am I talking about here – different backup software?

No. I’m talking about creating a folder (or an external drive partition) covering all the basics required just to get your system back in shape. To me, although backing up my data was never a big deal, re-installing an operating system was –  more so if I lost a disk or two. And in today’s age, it’s very difficult to manage flash drives let alone optical disks.

So today while configuring a new 1TB hard drive (which I bought to ensure I didn’t have to delete my massive volume collection of TV shows and movies and also to get an efficient back up system in place) I decided to make a simple folder (although a partition is recommended)  with all the important stuff one might need while re-installing the operating system. (Now I hope such situation of reinstalling everything doesn’t occur to anyone. No one! But mind me, people don’t learn. Just last weekend I helped two friends to reinstall their systems. I’m scheduled for one more for the next weekend.)

What did I include in this folder, you may ask. Simple… Here’s a quick list first.

  1. An installation of Flash Boot.
  2. An .iso of Lucid Puppy 5.2
  3. An .iso image of the OS’s DVD (Windows 7 Premium in my case, which came in bundled with my machine)
  4. A text file of OS’s license key (Because the Microsoft sticker is quickly losing the shape)
  5. An installation of Daemon Tools Lite (any image emulation software)
  6. An .iso image of system’s Drivers and Utilities disk (that Drivers disk which manufacturers bundle with your system)

So how would all this stuff help, you make ask. Here’s how. Flash boot is a software that let’s you make USB drives bootable. If my machine goes boom and if the other machine which I’m working on meanwhile has no internet connection, has no DVD drive, I could simply make a partition in my external hard drive and burn any .iso file to it and get things done faster. Yes, having no internet connection is lame these days, but who knows? Be prepared for the worst, they say.

Why Lucid Puppy? Lucid Puppy(formerly known as Puppy Linux) is the lightest Linux version I’ve ever come across and I’ve rescued very very important docs using it and not just once, on numerous occasions. Just burn this .iso on a DVD or USB and you’re running an OS just from that removable media – Just like a Live CD. You can use other Live CDs like Ubuntu, but compared to other Live OS like Ubuntu and Fedora, Puppy is much faster, lighter and simpler. What it can do? Well primarily used in my cases to recover data before on a bad OS machine before formatting a hard drive. And it does that like a charm.

After taking the data back you can simply boot with your primary OS’s disk (if you have it safe) or again burn it on a disk or USB now that you have an iso saved on your hard drive, and reinstall the machine. Or repair it. Suit yourself. And after re-installation, you can use a simple disk emulation software like Daemon and get your drivers back in shape with the iso.

Why this can help? Because as I said, optical drives are easy to lose. And especially the OS disks which tend to be a lot sensitive – a few scratches and they’re gone. The other software included is pretty much for worst case scenarios but it’s still good if you create one. It takes just 7GB of space, which isn’t bad for what it’s worth.

What if I don’t have an external hard drive? Then invest in one. And use a back up software like Acronis TrueImage for Windows, or Time Machine for Mac. If you are a regular computer user, you must invest in an external drive. Besides, they’re very cheap these days.

Other ways to Backup: Use services like Dropbox to keep your important to very important data backed up online.

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Written by rahulbhagchandani

March 26, 2011 at 1:05 am

Posted in Backup

Tagged with , , ,

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