I recently decided to back up the 40GB or so of .wma music files I had on one of my servers. For several reasons, I decided to copy all of the files to CD-Recordable (CD-R) disc. I figured that doing so would work well at 650MB per CD-R disc, and I would be able to move the music files to any computer or grab a handful to take with my notebook when I travel.

I ran into a couple of problems while performing the file transfers. The first was that the CD-ROM File System (CDFS) has a limit of 64 characters in a filename. Because the filenames of the music files I had created contained the name of the artist, album, and song title, many of them exceeded 64 characters. Adaptec EZ-CD Creator will automate renaming the files, but I didn't want to lose the information contained in the filenames. To keep the filenames intact, I decided to zip the files on a per album basis. This approach meant CDFS had to deal only with whatever I named the zip file, and for a little extra effort on my part, I retained all of the information contained in the filenames. I can't play the files back directly from the CD-R disc, but I can easily extract the desired files to a local disk. I didn't zip the files for the file compression because the files are barely compressible.

The second problem I encountered was that 650MB on NTFS doesn't seem to equal 650MB on CDFS. I found that if I tried to copy more than about 610MB to a CD-R disc, I received a "disk full" message. So I wrote what the local machine reported as 590MB to 610MB, and when I checked the CD-R disc, the total file size was now more than 640MB.

So after 50 plus CD-R discs, I've mastered the trick of backing up my music collection, and I now have a semipermanent archive of more than 15,000 tracks from my personal CD collection. Now, when I travel on extended business trips, I can bring almost my entire CD collection with me in a small binder.

This week's tip:
I've noticed that when I use Windows 2000 on my laptop, I almost never receive warning messages when my battery power is low. On top of that, I've noticed that the remaining battery life isn't always represented correctly, or rather, the system is slow to update the remaining power numbers.

It turns out that when you use two batteries with Windows 2000, the OS still uses the same calculation formula that it uses with one battery. This formula results in an improper calculation for the alarms that you can set to warn you about power loss. If you use two batteries in your notebook (I almost always do for cross country trips), you should set the low-power alarms at a greater than normal percentage of remaining battery life to prevent the system from suddenly running out of power and losing your work.