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I will try to keep this short since it is not structurally related. I spent
the last two weeks recovering from a crash of my Windows 95 which distroyed
the registry and each of the backups.
I've learned a few lessons which I would like to recommend to our members.
Remember, it's better to be prepared for disaster than out in the cold like
someone I'm very attached to (me).

1. Tape Backups are relatively inexpensive. I just purchased a Sony (Iomega
Ditto) 2 gig drive for under $150.00. There are better deals with the new
Ditto tape drives at $199.00 that will read and write up to 10 Gigs
compressed on one tape and are compatible (for reading only) all previous
Iomega tape formats. Backup your complete Window's directory at a bare
minimum - the tape drive will also backup your registry.
Do this after each software installation just in case. The best way is to
always save the previous copy before installing new software.

If you don't want to go through the trouble of backing up before each
software installation (just in case one of the software packages corrupts a
DLL file used by another program - it has happened), try this tip:

2. Nortons Utilities is my favorite, however Helix Nuts and Bolts is also
highly rated. Norton's allows you to track every change made to the
registry. If an error or conflict arises, you can track backwards to the
software change that may have caused the problem.
The new Norton's 3.0 and "Nuts and Bolts" has a registry cleaner and
compactor. Use these very carefully. Always make a copy of the registry
before you change it (I'm notorious for working in my registry). Both
programs search for unconnected links - like shortcuts that no longer are
linked to files. Be careful here, you may destroy a link that may not be
apparently needed but is, none the less. These are refered to as Orphaned
programs or links. In some cases a program may need to seek a program or
file on your CD-ROM. When told that an orphaned link exists to your CD-rom,
don't delete it. Ignore it - it is most likely of need.

3. Norton's, as well as most competitive programs, allow you to make a
Rescue disk. Do it!!!!!!! In most cases you will be asked if you want your
registry backed up. The problem is that the system registry is too large for
your floppy. Rather than copy your rescue info to a floppy, save it first on
your hard drive or, better yet, a Zip drive (another very important
investment). You can then separate the system.dat file to the zip drive and
the other files to a 1.44mb floppy. Do this often, at least once before
installing new software or once a week whichever is sooner.

4. There are a couple of other ways to protect your system registry from
corruption that won't cost you a cent (well almost nothing). Windows 95
CD-rom comes with a few utilities that allow you to make backup copies (up
to eight progressive copies). Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't tell you about
these programs or where they are located.  The registry backup and restore
utility is located in the Other\Misc\Cfgback directory of your Windows 95
CD-rom. The programs are called CFGBACK.EXE and CFGBACK.HLP These programs
will make a backup of your current windows configuration for emergency
retrieval later. These are essential in preventing days or weeks of
rebuilding large harddrives.

5. Finally, as best as I could do to protect myself, my lack of
understanding of how to recover before disaster hit kept me from using these
utilities to their fullest. I highly recommend the following book - even if
you are only a novice.  I would assume that with the level of technical
information we work with daily, we should all be able to understand how our
computer works with files.
"The Windows 95 Registry - A Survival Guide for Users" by John Woram (editor
of Windows Magazine) and published by MIS Press is a softcover book under
$25.00 (I picked it up from Barns and Nobel or Crown). It is the only
in-depth book that covers every aspect of working with the Windows Registry.
It teaches the user to have respect for the registry but not to fear it. It
covers the registry in stages so that the reader leaves with a better
understanding of where to find information that programs need. It also gives
some very nice tips on how to add programs to your SEND TO button and how to
customize Windows Icons. There is a ton of stuff in this book and I can't
recommend it enough.

A couple of free softwares that I recommend:
COA32.zip - On the SEAOC web site. This program allows you to move a program
from one one drive or folder to another. This is not as easy as it sounds
since the location of most 32 bit programs is written in the registry. COA32
(which stands for Change of Address) searches the registry for the programs
address and writes in the new location that you are moving it to. Save

DLLShow.zip is available from shareware download location such as
www.shareware.com . This is a great utility that tracks each program loaded
into memory and provides you a list of all DLL and DRV files that are
dependent upon these programs. The next time you get that dreaded General
Protection Fault error at some DLL file, you can track back in DLLShow to
find out all programs that use the DLL or DRV file to see where the culprit
lies. Granted, it may not help much for Kernel32.dll or GDI.dll errors since
most of your programs use these libraries, it will narrow down the field
with other crashes.

More to come, but these are some very good starting points to protect
yourself.

Dennis Wish PE