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Quest for Files

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Are you sure you're backing up everything you'll need if your system fails? Think again. Windows hides critical files in all sorts of places. Learn where they are before it's too late.
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Darkness Falls

When a hard drive voices that dainty little "gronk" that we know and dread, the first question most of us ask of users is, "Do you have a backup?" Sometimes, miracle of miracles, the users say yes, and we cheer—until they begin working on their freshly restored system and find out about all of the things that weren't backed up.

Is it their fault? No way. They're victims of Mr. Gates' habit of tucking important Windows files into carefully hidden directories. The rationale, I gather, is that if users can't get at the files, they can't do damage. (And why would you need to get at the files, after all? Windows will take care of you.) In deciding on this strategy, Microsoft missed one critical point: Stuff happens. Bad stuff. Hard drives that go "tick, tick, tick" and corrupt themselves. Power failures at inopportune moments that cause heads to do rude things during a write. Hardware failures that make charming coasters out of pieces of magnetic media. Disks that go bump in the night.

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