Your Software Toolbox

Computers don't run perfectly forever. Every so often something is going to go wrong with your system and you will need to either fix it yourself or get someone else to fix it for you. Repairing or maintaining your system is much easier if you keep a box of disks containing useful programs and utilities that you can use to help you when your system has problems.

Let's consider what sorts of utilities and programs that this "Software Toolkit" should contain.

First we need to consider the situation where your operating system refuses to boot. Depending on which operating system you are running there will be a Startup, Boot, Rescue, or Repair disk (or perhaps two or more disks) that you can create that will help you in this situation. These disks should definitely be the first that you place in your software toolkit. You should look up how this disk (or disks) should be used to recover your system and if you don't think it is obvious enough then record the instructions on paper and save it with the disk(s).

If your originally used floppy disks to start your operating system install then a copy of this disk (or disks) may also be a useful addition to your software toolkit particularly if they can be used to start the system independently of the main operating system and give you a command prompt.

The next disk that you want for your software toolkit is a utilities disk. To create this format a floppy disk and copy to it all of the utility programs from your operating system that you think would be useful to assist in rebuilding your system if recovering it doesn't work. Examples of useful utilities to copy include fdisk and format (or the equivalent partitioning and formatting programs for your operating system). You will also want chkdsk, (or scandisk or whatever the disk checking program is called for your operating system) and a copy of whatever program that you use to backup and restore your data. A text editor would also be a useful utility program to have available. If you can't get all of these programs (and any other useful utility programs that occur to you) on one disk then use two or more disks.

Something else that is useful to have copied to a disk (or disks) in your software toolkit are copies of all of the driver programs for your hardware. These will make rebuilding your system easier as you will have all of the necessary drivers in one place. It's particularly important if you have downloaded new versions of your drivers from the internet as having these copied to disk will save your having to download them again. In many instances where you have a problem with a particular hardware item, reinstalling its driver will rectify the problem.

Finally, if you have any useful utility programs that perform the same functions as some of the system software on your utilities disk then you may want to include that either instead of or as well as the copies on your utilities disk. For example Partition Magic can partition and format hard drives far more easily than the equivalent system utilities. As time goes on, I am sure that you will find a number of utility programs that are useful to have in this collection.

The number of disks in your software toolkit (particularly if you are running multiple operating systems) will probably end up using more disks than you initially expect but having them available when your system has problems will probably make resolving the problem much easier. Ongoing maintenance of your system will also be much easier. You certainly wont regret that you spent the time to create your Software Toolkit.

Once you have created the disks you will need to find somewhere close to your computer where you can store all of these disks together so that you can find them easily when you need them.


To summarize, your software toolkit should include:

 

This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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