Jewish World Review Dec. 1, 2003 / 6 Kislev, 5764

Windows Start missing user's favorites place; how can I back up or store my files temporarily and restore them after reinstalling XP?; simple way to transfer old computer setup and OS to new drive without software?

By James Coates | (KRT) Q. I hope you can help me with a minor change I'm trying to make on my work laptop running Windows 2000. I'm trying to add my Internet Favorites to the Start menu. I've been able to do this on my home desktop running Windows ME, and it's a nice convenience.

I have looked for the option in the Advanced tab of my laptop's Taskbar and Start Menu Properties, but "Expand Favorites" isn't listed, though it does include "Expand My Documents" and "Expand Control Panel," among others. Was this nice option eliminated in Windows 2000?

Stephen Fauntelroy, Northbrook

A. Your problem raises an issue that should interest all users of Windows XP and above, but first let's deal with your specific machine and Windows XP, Mr. F.

You should check the powers that be at your office, because it looks like your information technology folks took it upon themselves to disable the popular Windows feature that lets users access their favorite Web pages and local files by clicking on Start no matter where they may be on the computer. This tool can be used to move the stuff one enjoys the most to within one click on the Start menu. But because Windows 2000 was designed as primarily a tool for office users, this version of the operating system lets administrators disable the Favorites feature.

You can undo their work if you have been given the proper authority as a system administrator, but otherwise you're out of luck and need to ask somebody at the office to restore it. The command for disabling the extremely useful (but potentially distracting) Favorites command is under the User Configuration settings in the Administrative Tools Control Panel that is accessed by clicking on Start, then Settings and Control Panel.

Once you get the prohibition removed, you can follow the steps you cited in your note to reset the Start menu to include an item that one can click to call up a list of Favorites to the right of the Start menu. Let me add that this same tool for changing the Taskbar and Menu tabs can make other worthwhile changes, like creating similar displays to the right of the My Computer icon as well as one's Music, Pictures and Videos icons.

After you have set a Windows computer up with these displays, you'll wonder how you got by for all those years hunting up the icon for each category and then clicking it open

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Q. I recently and suddenly lost the use of my CD/DVD drive. I've had this PC for only 3 weeks, but now the only disc it recognizes is the XP operating system CD. After several calls to Gateway, it was determined that the software had to be reloaded, and all my files would be lost.

How can I back up or store my files temporarily and restore them after reinstalling XP? I was told I need a USB Zip drive. I do not have a floppy disk drive in my CPU.


A. You don't say who told you that a USB Zip drive was the way out of this mess, Mr. S., but I'm afraid that the day of the Zip drive has come and mostly gone. We now have many easier ways to make quick backups of computer data that are not only faster and more simple, but also far less prone to mechanical breakdown.

A great place to learn about the new way to store data for quick backups is the Web site of the company that rode to prominence as the originator of the Zip drive, Iomega Inc., at

Modern computers like yours running on Windows XP or Mac OS X instantly can recognize and utilize what are known as thumb drives or mini USB drives. These gadgets are about the size of a pack of chewing gum and plug directly into the USB port.

Since your computer broke down so soon after you began using it, you probably could get by with the $39.95 Iomega Mini 64MB USB 2.0 drive that holds 64 megabytes of data. The drives are made by many competitors, such as Verbatim, Belkin and BusLink, and are superb ways to do stuff like download data from the computer at home and load it onto the computer at work.

Iomega continues to sell and support the Zip drives, but that mainly is for folks who have stored large amounts of information on Zip cassettes in the past rather than new users with modern computers. I should add that these devices also work with Windows 98, but one must first load driver software on those machines. Also, readers should know that the relatively new USB 2.0 connections are far faster than the earlier USB, but that almost all USB 2.0 devices will work on older USB machines but at far slower speeds.

The thumb drives can be had as large as 1 gigabyte. Iomega charges $349.95 for its 1 gb thumb drive, but, for most of us, 64 mb or even 32 mb is plenty. I recently reviewed a $30 Store 'n Go USB drive from Verbatim that caught my eye because of the low price and the fact that it comes with a lanyard, which one can drape around the neck to be sure data is always in reach.

Q. I am going to get a new hard drive soon, an upgrade to one of the newer 8 mb cache 7200 drives. The only problem is that I like the setup I have on my old drive. Is there any way to simply transfer this setup and OS to the new drive without software? And if not, what is the best software to use?

Steve Salem

A. One word, Mr. S.: Aloha. Make that 5 words: Alohabob PC Relocator Ultra Control.

This product from Sunrise, Fla.-based Eisenworld Inc. has become the gold standard for computer experts and savvy hobbyists when it comes to moving the look and feel of an old computer onto a new one. This is known in the trade as migration, and the stuff that gets migrated is called the personality of the computer.

The $69.96 Alohabob software restores about everything you can ask: Internet favorite places, address book entries, screen savers, font sizes, network settings, desktop colors and other configurable items. It can be used to move entire programs from one machine to the other.

This saves huge amounts of time spent reinstalling on the new machine all of the software one has accumulated. To make the transfers, the new machine usually is connected to the old-timer with special USB cables, network cables or even cables that connect through the parallel ports. The process can take a lot of time but hardly a fraction of what it would take to do the personality shift piecemeal.

Your problem can be resolved by a feature of the PC Relocator that can make the transfers onto removable storage like CD-Rs, Zip cassettes or portable hard drives. This way a business can create a standard machine, and then set one up for every employee's computer.

In your case, you will need to first move the personality on some sort of storage and then install the hard drive. You will have to load Windows on the new hard drive the old-fashioned way, but afterward restoring the personality will be as easy as dropping CDs into the slot or plugging in a Zip drive.

I'd like to add that while I share your desire to keep a few things like Internet favorites, one of the best things about getting a new computer is no longer having to put up with the tired personality of the old one. I usually just open the Internet browser, click on File and Export and then save my favorites to a small file. On the new machine a File and Import command restores that data.

I also click on Start and Search and call up the file called Outlook.pst that holds my Microsoft Outlook address book, e-mail and calendars. But mostly I just sit back and get to know my new machine.

Finally, although it won't work in your case, the new versions of Windows contain a module that lets users transfer most personality items using Ethernet cables.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.



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