ABC Tower   ABC Nightlife 26 January, 2007

Tips & Hints

Posted 17 February 2007

The first nightlife for 2007 looked at protecting your systems and data. After the recent Victorian bushfires, we had a reminder that protecting computer systems is important. The shoebox of family photos and business receipts has been replaced by a hard drive full of your essential personal or business information.

The good news is that a hard drive of data is far easier to copy than a box of memorabilia or invoices. With the massive price drop in storage costs, backup has never been cheaper or easier. The most simple backup is dragging and dropping data to a flash drive, but there are more effective ways of protecting your data.

While we recommend three year warranties for all computers, it's important to remember a warranty will only cover your hardware. Let's face it, hardware is cheap while data is priceless. It's your responsibility to protect what's important to you.

As usual, Tony got us through a lot of listeners, these included a few email related problems. Alan started with asking about email backup programs.

Email backup
Alan asked about backing up email. One of the problems with email programs is they have a habit of hiding their files or folders deep in the System. Finding them can be a problem.

Outlook Express: Open Outlook Express click Tools, Options, Maintenance, Store Folder to find the location of the DBX folders.

Outlook: Open the Control Panel, click Mail, Data Files to find the location of the PST files.

Thunderbird: While we recommend Thunderbird as an alternative to Microsoft products, they don't make it easy to find and use your email. Instructions on doing so are on the Mozilla website.

Windows does a rotten job of storing data, with programs scattering data everywhere. We recommend backing up the entire C:\Documents and Settings (or C:\users for Windows Vista users) folder, that way most data, including address books, favorites and documents is backed up.

Just to keep computer users on their toes, some programs such as MYOB, Quicken and Eudora will still stash user information in their own place and you'll have to check that program documentation.

Recovering Outlook Data
Rob called about missing Outlook data. There's a number of things that can do this. The most common is a damaged PST file. Outlook stores all data, address books, tasks and email in a file called the PST file. Microsoft have a tool called SCANPST and instructions on using it on their website.

To complicate things, Outlook chokes if a PST file exceed 2Gb. When the PST file reaches 2Gb Outlook simply stops working. Again, Microsoft have a tool to deal with this.

Recovering Lost Data
Another Alan called about lost data. The key to recovering lost data is not to panic and to stop using the computer as soon as you realise the data is lost. The quicker you act and the less you use the computer, the more likely it is you can recover the data. A good free tool is Restoration.

We've also seen good results with programs like Recover My Files and other commercial software. Keep in mind data recovery is a delicate operation, if you do not know what you are doing, then you must call a professional.

As usual our apologies to the many callers who couldn't get through. The next Nightlife computer spot is yet to be scheduled and we'll be looking at the strange case of Julie Amero and the risks for Australian teachers and business. If you"d like to be kept up-to-date with our schedule then subscribe to our newsletter.
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