Critical Section


WinRAR

Wednesday,  06/18/03  02:03 PM

Praise for a tool I use often - WinRAR.  It is both faster and more flexible than WinZip, and provides a superset of functionality.  And it is only $30 (shareware, like WinZip).

Do you back up often?  Imagine you are sitting there at your computer, and suddenly the screen goes black.  Your hard drive is toast.  You have lost your email, your calendar, your contacts.  You have lost all your Word documents, all your code.  You have lost all your pictures.  All your music.  All your videos.  Are you toast?

This has happened to me only once, but it has almost happened to me many times; often through pilot error.  I do regular backups - at least once per week - because the fear of losing "everything" is so great.  It is not an exaggeration to say I live my business life on my computer.

I have two old PCs at my house which are setup as servers (running RedHat Linux); in fact, good old Critical Section is hosted on one of them.  I run samba, which lets me use Windows networking to share directories on the servers with the Compaq laptop which is my "desktop" (running Windows XP Pro).  Each night the servers back themselves up to each other.  Once a week I use WinRAR to back up my laptop to the servers.  The great things about using WinRAR in this way is that it only backs up changed files (new or modified since the last backup), and it incrementally appends to a set of archive files.  The archive files are limited to 2GB in size (by RedHat Linux, and therefore by samba), but I actually have about 10GB of files to back up, so WinRAR simply spans them across six files.  Works perfectly.

And if I ever need to restore a file, I can do so easily, on a file or directory basis...  I can even go back through different versions of the same file.

There was a time when removable media were terrific for backups.  Especially since the cost of CD-RWs is down to less than $1/disk.  But they just don't hold enough data - my "working set" on my laptop is about 10GB, and that would require about 20 CDs to back-up.  Even doing incremental backups, I'd have a whole stack of CDs to keep track of.  Just doesn't really work.

So - two points; back up often, you will thank yourself someday, and WinRAR is a great tool.  Over and out.

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