Education And Debate


BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 11 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1289
  1. Andrew Millman

    Computers are generally very reliable, but failures can happen as a result of hardware breakdown, accidental deletion of an important file, virus infection, or simply unexplained corruption of your programs or data. In some organisations users can call on an IT department, but most people have no access to computer experts and have to try to fix problems themselves. Even an IT department may be unable to help unless you have taken a few basic precautions. Fortunately, there are many simple tasks that the ordinary user can do without special knowledge to protect the system and the data that it contains, and to minimise the risk of problems occurring in the first place.

    Routine maintenance tasks

    • Organise your hard disk

    • Create a rescue floppy disk

    • Backup your data

    • Defragment the hard disk

    • Scanning for viruses

    Organising your hard disk

    You should organise your hard disk properly so that programs and data can be located quickly and easily when they are needed. Starting at the C:\ prompt, create a series of new directories into which you put specific types of file. For example, you might wish to create a directory called C:\UTILS for utilities such as your text editor. To do this, either type md utils (make directory) at the DOS prompt or use Windows file manager and select File, Create Directory and then name it utils.

    Create another directory called C:\DOCS for documents. You might then wish to create a series of subdirectories under C:\DOCS such as C:\DOCS\LETTERS or C:\DOCS\ACCOUNTS. Saving all your work in this way makes it much easier to back up your files, as you simply back up C:\DOCS and all its subdirectories, avoiding the need to locate a large number of word processor, spreadsheet, and database files scattered all over your hard disk. Programs should also be put into separate directories--most installation programs …

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