Backing Up Your Personal Data

Backups are always a good idea. Few things are as frustrating as the realization that you've somehow lost years of e-mail, all your Web settings, the great American novel, all of your tax returns for the last decade, your music collection, and the digital photographs and video for all of your vacations and special occasions. I hope that you're already doing backups, but if you're installing Ubuntu on a machine that is currently running Windows, this may be your last chance to preserve all of the personal data on your computer. I've never encountered a problem when setting up a computer to dual-boot Windows and Ubuntu, but there's always a first time. Back up your data before proceeding! If you're converting a system that is currently running Windows to an Ubuntu system, your existing disk will be erased, so back up your data before proceeding!

i^iiS^"^^ni^BSff 'S 3 ^'nc'ows book, and I cannot guess all of the locations where you or random pMKSHedbaiUi&SSQuB Windows applications may have stored important data. This section discusses some standard locations for personal information. i am not responsible if you miss some critical files. Your mileage may vary. caveat emptor! caveat reader! please make sure that your backups contain all of the files that you want to preserve before making any changes to your Windows system.

When backing up your Windows system with an eye toward migrating existing information to your new Ubuntu system, you must create your backups in a format that is accessible from an Ubuntu system. The easiest way to do this is by simply copying files and directories to a CD or DVD. You will need to back up at least the following directory on your Windows system:

C:\Documents and Settings\Username

The following are the critical directories in this directory that contain your personal data:

■ The Application Data and Local Settings folders where browsers and e-mail systems store your favorite Web sites, cookies, e-mail, account settings, passwords, and so on

■ The My Documents folder, where your documents, music, pictures, and videos are usually stored

You should also back up any other directories from your local disk in which you have explicitly stored files that you've been working on. This can include project directories, personal directories that you've created on your C: drive, and so on.

When backing up your Windows system so that you can migrate existing data, do not use a PC backup program for which no Linux version exists. (That's pretty obvious, but it had to be said.) Frankly, even if you find a backup program that works on both Linux and Windows systems, I would not recommend using it. Backups that you can mount and access as standard ISO-9660 CDs and DVDs are easy to use and require no special software at any time. You can also easily test CD/DVD backups of files and directories on another system — do not assume that they will be readable from your new Ubuntu system without testing them. "Back up once, verify twice," as my grandfather used to say. You should verify that you can read the data that you've backed up on at least one other computer system before proceeding.

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