Magazine article The CPA Journal


Magazine article The CPA Journal


Article excerpt

In the event of a system failure, the easiest solution is generally to reinstall software programs from the CD-ROM source and then restore work data from a backup archive. But, backup software is generally complex and difficult to utilize and usually requires additional hardware (such as slow and inefficient tape drives). Worst of all, the user must take the time to learn the software and remember to schedule the backup. In addition, the user usually must deal with reduced system productivity while the backup software is running.

The program AutoSave provides the user with a completely automatic, hands-off method of backing up only data files. This results in lower overhead costs, increased productivity, and a better sense of security. The author has been using AutoSave for the past year and found it to be highly dependable. The current version is recommended for Windows 95/98, NT, and 2000.

How AutoSave Works

AutoSave checks any file that is created or written to the disk to see if the file is a work file. If so, the file is compressed and saved to the backup location. This process is given a low priority, so it does not interrupt any active programs. In the rare event that the system is quickly shut down before the backup of a file is complete, the process will automatically finish the next time Windows runs.

AutoSave does not save OS or application programs, because these can always be reloaded from the original installation disks or CD-ROM. The user can override this default option, but this drastically increases the amount of backup (archive) space needed.

Limitions. AutoSave does not appear to have compatibility problems with antivirus software, disk-compression programs, disk managers, or other backup products. To save archive space, the default setting backs up only data files, such as documents, letters, memos, e-mail, and spreadsheets. To reduce the disk space needed for backups, the default installation will not back up video clips, graphics, or sound files. The save options can be modified by using the Setup Wizard. Note that files stored on a network drive or removable media are not backed up in the archive, which saves space and time.

Backup Practices

Whenever users save (or the program automatically saves) a file, AutoSave automatically writes a copy to the backup archive. Because AutoSave only backs up a copy when the file is saved, it is a good habit to periodically save any open items; this reduces the chance of losing current work. Should disaster strike, remember that data in the computer's temporary memory is lost; only information saved to the disk is retained.

Full backups. AutoSave does not normally perform a full backup. Users of special backup hardware and software should continue to periodically perform a full backup. A full backup may save time if the hard disk fails or a large portion of disk data is corrupted. (DOS disk drives have a bad habit of losing sectors.)

AutoSave can be used to perform a full backup, but this will take up a very large amount of disk space. Users that do not perform a full backup can still avoid major losses by reinstalling the operating system and applications from the original installation media (CD-ROMs and diskettes).

Using the Setup Wizard

General. The Setup Wizard is used to specify a location for the backup archive. Other custom options such as special file exclusions, inclusions, and number of revisions can also be set. The Setup Wizard runs automatically during installation but can also be run at any later time.

Typical. Most users will select the typical installation. This choice (which can be overridden) automatically locates the best available storage device.

In addition, the typical installation will set the default options and file exclusions. If these values have been previously set, the options can either be left as is or reset to the defaults. …

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