Backing Up Data on Floppy Discs
Published September 2000

Floppy Disks backups are one of the most cost effective methods of backing up. A standard floppy disk costs around 80 cents* each and almost all PCs come with an inbuilt floppy drive (the hardware that reads floppy disks). A floppy will hold 1.4 megabytes of information but you can obtain very cheap programs which will allow you to compress (zip) large amounts of information which enable you to back up files on floppy.

If you are only able to backup to floppy discs, I'd suggest that you use them to back up your data files, that is anything you create on your computer, letters, emails and the like. Then if a corruption occurs you can take the Back Up Copy and reload it over the top of corrupted data on your computer. As many operating systems are very large and you'd need something in the vicinity of 100 floppy discs of zip files to back up the entire system, it you may be best to reinstall the operating system from the original discs that came with your computer if your operating system becomes corrupted and use the floppies only for backing up your data files.

To compress files for backup onto a floppy disc (or to email), you can alter, & combine, a number of files, of any type, into a Zip File. That is a file which ends with the suffix .zip and occupies less space than the combined total of the files within it. Once a file has been altered to zip format, it can be opened by any program that handles zip files. The files do not have to be opened by the same zip program that created them.

PKZIP® and WINZIP® are two of the most accessible and affordable zip programs currently available. WINZIP® is shareware so the registered version costs money where PKZIP® is freeware but more difficult to use.

PKZIP® is a command line program which means it does not give you point and click options to make it work. Instead you need to type in the commands. Due to space constraints I can only give you a few examples here, but if you choose to use PKZIP® you can always email me for help if you need it. You can obtain PKZIP from here. To use the program you need to access a DOS Prompt on your computer. You will probably have an option called MS DOS PROMPT or COMMAND LINE (depending on your operating system) in your start menu. Click on it and a window will open in which you can type. To get a reference listing of all commands simply type in PKZIP.

A few examples:

To zip up all the files in C:\documents into a file called backup zip

pkzip backup.zip c:\docurnents

To restore the files (unzip them)

pkunzip backup zip

If you are backing up existing directories from your system you need to retain the subdirectories when the file is restored (unzipped) To do that for the first example

pkzip -R backup zip c:\documents

Then to restore the last example

pkunzip -R backup zip

WINZIP® is the best point and click compression tool (zipper if you like), that I've found to date. It is visually very similar to windows explorer and easy to use. You select the files you wish to compress by clicking on them or a combination of files by holding down the shift key as you click on the files you want.

You can download a free evaluation copy from here. The evaluation copy does everything the registered copy (which costs US$29*) does except that some buttons on the evaluation copy (especially OK and CANCEL) swap places at random intervals. If you like using the program and intend to keep using it do register it.

*costs are approximate guidelines only current at Sep 2000

This page last updated on 21/12/2000 12:15

© Glynne MacLean 1999-2003

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