Most of the time, our computer comes default with one single hard disk, and it is usually our C: drive. Our operating system, applications and data (usually under the “My Document” folder) are all stored in this C: drive. If you have been using the computer for quite a while, you will know that after a while (usually 1-2 years), the system become so cluttered that performance badly affected and the system seems to feel like it is corrupted. The best solution to this is to have a clean install. This means reformatting the whole hard disk and starts all over again. Usually this also means a tedious way to backup the data files so that you can restore them back later. There are a few ways to make this process easier.Partition Your Hard Disk
* If your computer only comes with 1 hard disk, it is recommended that you partition your hard disk into 2 partitions. Depending on the size of your hard disk, I would recommend your C: drive partition to be no more than 40GB. Reason is C: drive will be catered for your operating system and applications, which usually will not exceed 40GB. This could of course be adjusted according to your needs (at the point of installation). So let’s say you have a 160GB hard disk, which will leave you with 120GB for your D: drive, which will cater to your data files. Once your have your 2 partitions set up and Windows properly installed. Do the following:
Go to your D: drive and create a directory call “Username’s Documents” (where username if your login name).
Click on Start” and highlight “My Documents”. Right click it and select “Properties”.
Select “Move” and search for the directory you just created, which should be in “My Computer” => “D:” => “Username’s Documents”, click on “OK”. When prompted, click “Yes” to continue.
Now your “My Documents” folder is moved (or pointing) to your D: drive. When you click on “My Documents” now, it will point to your new D: drive’s “Username’s Documents” directory.
Once you have your data files moved to D: drive, whenever you need to re-install / reformat your operating system / applications, you can just format the C: drive and leave your D: drive (which contains your data files) intact.
If you have more than one user, logon to their account and repeat steps 1 to 3.
Having 2 Hard Disks
* If you have 2 hard disks in your computer, or intend to purchase an additional hard disk, this will make things even easier. Assign the smaller hard disk (put it as your C: drive) as your operating system and application software hard disk, and the bigger hard disk (put it as your D: drive) as your data files hard disk. Once you have your operating system setup in your C: drive (assuming your D: drive is formatted), follow step 1 to 3 above to move your “My Documents” folder to D: drive so that you can save all your data files there.
External Hard Disk
* There are 2 possible uses for an external hard disk here.
First, you can use it as your portable data files hard disk. Secondly, you can use it as your data files backup hard disk.
To use it as your portable data files hard disk, install your operating system and applications on your main hard disk in your computer (usually your C: drive). Once you have your external hard disk properly formatted, follow steps 1-3 to move your “My Documents” folder to the external hard disk drive so that you can save all your data files there.
If you only want to use your external hard disk to backup your data files, I would suggest your download a free tool from Microsoft call “SyncToy” (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalpho tography/prophoto/synctoy.mspx) that can help you backup your files easily. Once installed, do the following:
Run the program (Start => All Programs => SyncToy).
Click on “Create New Folder Pair”.
Click “Browse” and select the folder you want to backup and click “OK”.
Click on the picture of the computer on the right. Click “Browse” and select the destination to backup to (Your external hard disk). Click on “Make New Folder’ if you have yet to create it. Click “Next”.
If it is purely for backup, select the option “Echo” and click “Next”. Name your folder pair and click “Finish”.
Select your folder pair and click “Preview”. It will present a list of files that will be copied/backup. Click on “Run” to start the process.
When the process is completed, click “Close”.
When you use SyncToy, after the initial backup, only the changes will be copied, thus saving valuable time when doing backup. For example, if you copy 1000 files initially, and later make changes to 10 of it, and added 20 more files, only this 30 files will be copied when you do another synchronization, instead of copying all 1020 files again.
If you choose this method, after you reformat and re-install your operating system, you can just copy the data files back to the hard disk in your computer system.