Take Back Your Time
Three new Resource Kit tools can reduce repetitive typing and perform scheduled file copying for you at night.
- By Chris Brooke
This month I continue my study of new utilities in the
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit Supplement
4. You may recall that last month I wrote about this latest
supplement and how it’s just chock-full of brand new tools
that you can’t live without. This month, let’s look at
three very compact yet eminently useful utilities new
to Supplement 4.
As administrators, our jobs include many tedious tasks
that must be accomplished daily. Backing up data is by
far one of the most important (but still tedious) of our
daily duties. Sometimes this consists of using NT Backup
to save our entire hard drive to disk. Sometimes it simply
means copying the files from one machine to another (an
oft-employed method for those of us who still don’t own
a DAT drive).
Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit Supplement
If you’re scripting this “backup” to take place overnight,
then Mcopy.exe might just be the tool for you. What does
it do? It copies a single file from one place to another.
That’s it! Why use it? Well, for one thing, if the file
you’re backing up is, say, an Access .MDB, then you’re
probably only backing up one file. You may say, “So what?
The DOS COPY command lets me do that, and it’ll back up
multiple files with wildcards, if necessary.” Yeah, but
will it save the copy information into a log file? Nope.
Mcopy does. In fact, each time it logs activity, it appends
the copy information to the specified log file rather
than overwriting it. This means you can keep a running
log of copy procedures.
The syntax is:
MCOPY logfile sourcefile destfile
If you still say, “Sorry, Chris, but I’ve got to copy
multiple files, so Mcopy is no good to me,” fair enough.
I’ve got something for you, too…
MTC, like Mcopy, logs its activity to a file—even the
same one as Mcopy, if you prefer. The difference is that
MTC lets you copy files from an entire subdirectory. The
syntax is the same as Mcopy except that the filename isn’t
MTC logfile sourcedir destdir
Mcopy or MTC?
The downside to both utilities is that you can only copy
either a single file at a time (Mcopy) or a single directory
(along with all of its subdirectories—MTC). Wildcards
aren’t permitted, but both utilities let you specify copying
only files newer than a particular date by using the—ddmmyy
flag. So… Is this the greatest thing since sliced bread?
Probably not. Will it replace the COPY utility for all
of your file management needs? Definitely not! For critical,
scheduled copy functions for which you need a log file
to verify that they occurred, however, MTC and Mcopy may
prove very useful.
Sometimes the tedious administrative tasks I’ve just
mentioned involve working with lots of different snippets
of text. For instance, let’s assume you’re writing a script
to use both MCT and Mcopy to copy trees and files from
different directories to different directories, but using
the same log file (which just happens to be located on
a network share called S:\Public\Marketing\Admin\Chrisb\MyFiles\MyLogFiles\MyCopyLogs.txt).
The parent directories of our source files and destination
files are equally long.
Windows comes with a Clipboard where we can store just
about anything—one thing at a time. To do the above task
using the Windows Clipboard, we’d either have to decide
which snippet of text we hated typing the most and copy
it to the Clipboard, or place each snippet into a text
file and drag and drop it every time we needed it.
Cliptray gives us access to any number of text snippets
at any time (up to 100 per collection). Figure 1 shows
how it looks. It runs in the system tray (you know, that
area beside your clock) and references each text snippet
based on a name that you give it. For example, I could
name the full path to the log file “log,” the starting
path of the source files “src,” and the starting path
of the destination “dest” (which, coincidentally, is exactly
what I’ve done). When I’m writing my script, all I have
to do is right-click the Cliptray icon, select the snippet
I need, and paste it.
|Figure 1. Cliptray lets you access
any number of text snippets at any time (up to 100
per collection). It runs in the system tray and refeerences
each text snippet based on a name that you give it..
One of Cliptray’s best features is that it saves your
snippets to disk, so you don’t have to reprogram in your
text every time you reboot. You can create several files,
each containing the collection of snippets that are needed
for the current task. It even has a Preview mode, which
you can use to view the text before you paste it (to make
sure that you chose the right item—this saves a lot of
Granted, I’d only want to use this for large amounts
of text that I’m constantly reusing. If I put every single
little phrase into Cliptray, I’ll spend more time searching
through the list and pasting than I would typing it to
begin with. Nonetheless, most scripts contain lots of
big chunks of repeated text. In these cases, Cliptray
I read somewhere about a study concluding that one of
the major causes of stress wasn’t lack of money, but lack
of time. It always seems that there just aren’t enough
hours in the day. By using MTC and Mcopy to perform file
copying at night and Cliptray to cut down on repetitive
typing, you just might find yourself getting some of that
time back. And if you have any to spare, could you lend
me some? I’m a little short right now.
Chris Brooke, MCSE, is a contributing editor for Redmond magazine and director of enterprise technology for ComponentSource. He specializes in development, integration services and network/Internet administration. Send questions or your favorite scripts to firstname.lastname@example.org.