Saturday, 18 June, 2005

More fun with external drives

Sometimes it seems the more I learn about computers, the less I actually understand.  Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to back data up to an external device?  See June 16 for the preliminaries.

When I finally uninstalled Iomega's automatic backup software, Windows magically let me safely remove the device.    That's problem one solved.  One would think that just disabling the sofware would be enough, but apparently there's something that gets loaded at startup and holds a reference to the drive.  Is this another example of hardware manufacturers' inability to create usable software?

Michael Covington saw Thursday's note and recommended Ntbackup.  Yes, the program that comes with Windows.  I had to reformat the Iomega drive with NTFS so that it could hold the backup file.  Ntbackup writes the backup into a single large file, a "feature" that I'm not entirely happy with.  The only saving grace is that Ntbackup is installed by default on Windows 2000, XP, and 2003.  20 minutes after I formatted the drive I had a backup of all my data.  Not bad.  I'll need to explore the program a bit so I can learn how to schedule backups and such, but Ntbackup looks like the right solution.

Because Ntbackup stores everything in a single file, those files can get very large.  The backup file on my system, for example, is more than 15 gigabytes.  FAT32 partitions have a maximum file size of 4 gigabytes, so if you want to use Ntbackup you have to format the backup drive with NTFS.  Unless you make really small backups.

Encouraged by a successful backup of my system, I turned to Debra's.  But for some reason I can't format her Western Digital external drive with NTFS.  Windows keeps telling me that something is accessing the drive.  I have no idea what that something might be.  I guess it's time to do a little research.  Google is my friend.

I feel a rant coming on.