The Explorer: Bullet-Proof Your Windows Setup

It's fast, easy, and inexpensive with this technique!

Fred Langa, Contributor

August 5, 2003

3 Min Read

Back To DOS
Because most imaging products work "outside" of Windows, you may wonder how they work on WinNT, Win2000 and WinME systems, which either don't have DOS at all, or which may not allow easy access to it.

PowerQuest ships its own special boot disks for situations like these: The boot disks run DR DOS (the "DR" stands for Digital Research, and is pronounced "Dee Are," not "Doctor"). Although perhaps unfamiliar to users today, Digital Research was once a much larger software company than Microsoft: In fact, DR's Control Program/Microcomputers ("CP/M") was the dominant operating system for the first- (and many second-) generation PCs in the 1970 and early 1980's. Digital Research was so dominant that when IBM needed someone to supply a disk operating system for its then-new "personal computer," they turned to Digital Research. A probably-apocryphal legend has it that the late Gary Kildall, then owner of Digital Research and the creator of CP/M, was out playing in his new airplane and missed the visit from the IBM reps. So, IBM went to a tiny, upstart company in Albuquerque for its DOS instead: The company was called "Micro Soft" (yes, the name was two words then, and it wasn't originally in Washington State) ... and the rest is history.

So even though it's unfamiliar to many new users, DR DOS is a fine DOS with a long heritage. In fact, DR DOS and MS DOS are close software cousins -- both are conceptual descendents of CP/M -- and they both work in almost identical ways. Indeed, the DR DOS diskettes that PowerQuest supplies do a fine job of booting your system and running the DOS-based portions of PowerQuest's utilities, even on systems that don't have any version or brand of DOS otherwise available. For purposes like this, DR DOS and MS-DOS behave exactly the same.

If you have your own DOS toolkit, you can modify the operation of DOS-based disk imaging utilities. Before my copy of Drive Image runs, for example, I've modified the PowerQuest-supplied batch file so that, before it launches Drive Image itself, it runs Scandisk (to catch and correct any disk errors before they're immortalized in the image file) and then runs a modified version of "CleanAll.Bat" to wipe out all the junk temporary files that I don't want archived.

Bottom Line
Disk imaging software by itself is perhaps the very best way there is to back up your system and all the files thereon; it makes it easy to zap your entire system back into an absolutely perfect state of health in just minutes. If you need to make room for the image files, then partitioning software gives you an easy way to create the space you need. And adding a CD-R to the mix lets you create, store, and archive your system in such a way that you can have long-term access to any file you ever create over a span of literally decades.

It's a powerful combination, and one everyone should consider!

What are your backup solutions and experiences? Join in the Discussion!

Click for the batch files

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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