The All Important Backup
by Jim Notini


How many times have you read in this newsletter and the many other fine ADAM publications about the importance of making a backup copy of all your important data files and programs? A hundred times? A thousand times? More? Probably more than you would want to read, but this topic will always arise in newsletters because it is one of the most important aspects of owning a personal computer. This is magnified hundreds of times over in the case of the ADAM Computer due to the fact that there aren't any local computer stores in the area where you can stop by to have a corrupted disk or ddp recopied or replaced. In order to get a program fared, you will more than likely have to mail it off to your favorite ADAM Users Group if you aren't fortunate enough to have another ADAM owner in the area who have the program. Since many ADAM owners are located hundreds of miles from such ADAM organizations, time will play a major factor in the program getting to the AUG, having it fixed and then mailed back. Time that some people just cannot afford to waste due to deadlines for work, school or personal reasons.

We have all, at one time or another, experienced the loss of an important program or data, but fortunately for myself, I have access to all the commercial or public domain programs in case I do. What will happen more times than not is the loss of information on a data pack. Although more reliable than the cassette players used by systems older than the ADAM, the data pack is still a non-reliable way to read and write information on the ADAM. Many people have experienced all types of problems using these drives while others have used their ADAM for five or six years without the loss of one data pack or even the need to replace the original digital data drive! Hard to believe, but there are those ADAM owners out there that have never had to replace a data drive, while others like myself seem to be buying new ones every couple months.

How exactly do you go about making a backup copy of a program or data files so as to prevent headaches down the road? The first step would be to purchase a copy program such as BACKUP 3.0, BACKUP+ 3.0, KOPYKAT, QUICKOPY V5.0, FILE MANAGER V20, SmartDSK III & UTILITIES or UNCLE ERNIE'S TOOLKIT. There are many other commercial and public domain programs which will allow for the user to create a copy of a disk or data pack to another disk or data pack. I would recommend the purchase of either FILE MANAGER V2.0 or SmartDSK III & UTILITIES since both these programs support any size memory expander as well as any size disk drive which you may own and also include many other utilities such as file copiers, block editors, block copiers, format and init routines, editors, etc. My personal choice for the best utility program would be FILE MANAGER V2.0 by AJM SOFTWARE ($17.95) due to how easy it is to use and the vast amount of functions it can perform. SmartDSK III by WALTERS SOFTWARE CO. ($24.95) would be my second choice for when I have to make multiple copies of one program since SmartDSK III allows the user to setup a ramdisk to which the user can copy a program or files to and then make as many copies to a disk or data pack from the ramdisk as you desire (saves wear and tear on physical drives and reading from the ramdisk is many times faster than reading from a disk or data pack). SmartDSK III's copy program is also the only one available today that will adjust the number of blocks remaining on the destination disk or data pack in the case that you are copying from and to two different sized drives!

The next step that must be taken is to insure that you have available an ADAM formatted disk or data pack. If not, many of the aforementioned programs allow for the formatting of disks from within the program, but data packs cannot be formatted, you will need to buy them or create your own with the MegaCOPY Ill device by TRISYD VIDEO ($49.95).

Once your set with a blank media (disk or data pack) you may go about three different ways to create a functioning copy.

STEP 1: Use the standard BACKUP MEDIA (or IMAGE BACKUP) option to create an exact copy of the source media. This option is sufficient for most purposes and is the easiest method since all you have to do is specify the source and destination drives. But remember that if you are copying between different sized drives, to insure that the source does not contain more used blocks of data than the destination can, hold or else your copy will not contain the entire contents of the source media

STEP 2: Lie a BLOCK COPY option which allows the user to specify a range of blocks to copy from the source and also designate the starting block which the data will start to be written at on the destination. This option is a real time saver if you know that the source, for instance, only contains 50 used blocks. Therefore, you can specify to copy only the 50 blocks from the source to the destination instead of using the BACKUP MEDIA option which will copy all of the source blocks to the destination.

STEP 3: Use a FILE COPY option (works only on EOS format media) to specify certain files to copy from the source to the destination. This is the option I use most since it allows you to copy only the files off of the source you want to the destination. Since I do not trust any PURGE or CRUNCH utility for any computer to remove deleted files, this is the only choice left available.

When using FILE COPIERS, also remember that if the source is an auto-booting program you will also need a BLOCK COPIER in order to copy block 0 from the source to the destination block 0 or else your destination media will be useless. For instance, if you use FILE MANAGER V2.0 to file copy the BASICPGM file from your SmartBASIC media to another media, that media which contains the BASICPGM file still can't load SmartBASIC upon pulling the < COMPUTER RESET > because block 0 is what tells the system what machine code file is on the media and how to load it

There are many other idiosyncrasies to be aware of when making backup copies. One such example is the existence of Right Directory Data Packs. These data packs were used by Coleco for their supergame packs (Zaxxon, Jeopardy, Troll's Tale, etc.) and when copying a supergame to a data pack, you will need to copy it to a Right Directory Data Pack. If you copy the supergame, whether it be on disk or data pack, to a Center Directory Data Pack, the backup will not operate. Also, the safest way to copy a Right Directory Data Pack is by using a BLOCK COPIER and copying all blocks (0-255 ddp or 0-159 disk) from the source to the destination. BACKUP 3.0 and BACKUP+ 3.0 by MMSG are the only programs I know of that offer an option specifically for making backups of Right Directory Data Packs.

If you use CP/M 2.2 or Tony Morehen's TDOS V4.0, you can make a backup copy of your disks or data packs with the BACKUP utility contained on the CP/M 2.2 media or you can use one of the many EOS copy programs to make backup copies. Works with no problem at all.

If you have any questions which need to be answered, please give me a call or write and I will do my best to answer your questions. Most of all, remember that copy programs were developed to allow the user to create backup copies of their programs, not to be used for making copies of programs to trade with others or to sell. Don't be a PIRATE, BOOTLEGGER or whatever else you may call it since it will only lead to the loss of programmers who develop software for our system. There aren't very many talented programmers left for the ADAM and more seem to be moving away from the ADAM each month due to this piracy problem!

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