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Backing Up Your Data in Windows XP

By Kara Glover

If you haven't backed up your important data at least to a CD, you should do so IMMEDIATELY! A computer, any computer, can crash at any time, whether it's a new computer, an old computer, a really expensive computer, or a cheapy.


This article will teach you how to back up your My Documents folder on a CD, since the My Documents folder is where people usually keep most of their important stuff. I only discuss the method for Windows XP here, because methods for other operating systems tend to vary. (By the way, you need a CD burner (or CD-RW) to do this. If you're not sure if you have one, look at your CD drive(s) and see if you see "rewritable" written in tiny tiny letters. If so, you can burn CDs. If not, well you might want to think about getting a CD burner installed in your computer.

1. Open your CD burner. There's usually a button on the outside you can press to open it. Place the CD in the burner. The side you will burn onto should be face down. Close the burner, again using the same button you used to open it.


2. Wait a minute. A box should pop up on your screen with a variety of choices. Click once on the choice that says "Open Writable CD Folder Using Windows Explorer." (There's a picture of a manilla folder next to it.) Your choice should turn blue. Click OK.

3. A box opens up representing the empty CD you want to burn. Now take your mouse pointer and place it on the top blue border of this box. Press and hold (don't click) with your left mouse button, and drag the box down into the lower righthand corner of your screen.

4. Locate your My Documents folder on the desktop. If this folder isn't on the desktop, you should put it there for convenience sake. See the tip How to Put a Shortcut on your Desktop.

5. Now simply press on the folder with your left mouse button and drag the folder onto the empty box representing your CD in the lower right corner. You should see the contents of your folder being copied over. If you get a box asking if you want to copy "Thumbs" files, you can say "Yes" or "Skip." It's your choice. These files aren't important, trust me. You can also check the box to repeat your answer for each of these files to save time.


6. When the folder is completely copied to your CD box, clik on "Write these Files to CD" on the lefthand side of the box. A "wizard" pops up.

7. Click Next in the wizard (ignore the CD name and date underneath) Wait for the CD to burn. You'll see a green line progress across the screen.

8. When the CD is done, it should pop out of its drive, and you can click on Finish in the wizard. Label your CD with a Sharpie or other felt-tip pen, and you're all backed up!

About The Author: ©2005 by Kara Glover

Kara Glover is a Computer Tutor and Troubleshooter. You can find her online articles and tutorials on topics such as Microsoft Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint® at her website:


Backing Up Your Data in Windows XP

I followed the steps until #3 and then no box opened that I could drag. I guess that means I can't copy CD's on this machine. It's a Compaq Presario. The #2 box opened but not another for step #3 (03/22/2005)


By Roberta Kelly

Backing Up Your Data in Windows XP

Hi Roberta,
I would try opening the empty CD box from My Computer.
Double Click on your My Computer icon. Then double click on the icon that looks like it represents a CD. Your empty box should open. (03/22/2005)

By Kara Glover - Computer Tutor/Troubleshooter

Backing Up Your Data in Windows XP

In answer to the last two posts, she means the CD drawer on the tower of your computer. That's the other big thing that's not the monitor. Good luck! (07/18/2008)

By nancycorinne

Backing Up Your Data in Windows XP

Get an 8 gig flash drive. It's easier. (08/06/2009)

By lorraina

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