Simple backup of the OS/2 desktop


The OS/2 desktop can, at times, be a little fragile. It is therefore worth backing it up regularly. The desktop is essentially described by the following:

There is a standard desktop archiving mechanism in OS/2, accessed via the desktop Properties notebook, but it saves only the last three versions. Sometimes, by the time a problem has been identified, enough reboots have taken place to overwrite all of the 'good' copies.

Incidentally, the WarpCenter configuration is not saved by default when the desktop is archived using the above mechanism. To include it, add suitable lines (specifying the .CFG files) to the file \OS2\ARCHIVES\OS2.KEY on the boot drive; the format will be obvious from the existing entries.

A REXX script for desktop backup

This simple REXX script will create a recovery directory on the boot drive. Into this it will place ZIPped copies of the above files constituting the desktop. It will also include utilities which are useful when restoring the desktop (e.g. UNZIP).

The intention is that the script will be run before each normal disk backup, to record the current state of the desktop. I personally do this before each nightly backup, so that the nightly backup includes the latest copy of the recovery directory. In addition, this means that the most recent version of the recovery data is readily available, as corruption is less likely to occur in the middle of the night when the backup is run.

Restoration of the backup is a manual process; this is safer than an automated method that might go wrong. The steps are:

  1. Boot to a basic command prompt using install diskettes, utility diskettes or a maintenance partition.
  2. Delete the entire desktop directory tree. I use the command:

    rm -rf \Desktop

    for this; the rm utility is included with the backup script.
  3. Unzip the backed up directory tree from the recovery directory. Familiarity with UNZIP is assumed.
  4. Delete the files OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI in \OS2; they may have to be un-hidden using the ATTRIB command.
  5. Unzip the backed up versions of the above files from the recovery directory.
  6. Delete the files SCENTER.CFG and DOCK*.CFG from \OS2\DLL.
  7. Unzip the backed up versions of the above files from the recovery directory.
After this, reboot normally.


This works for me, and has saved me on a number of occasions. It should work for you, but I give no guarantees.

Getting the required files

The REXX script and associated files are available here; the DTBACKUP.ZIP file includes the following:


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Last Updated: 21st October 2016
© 2016 by Bob Eager, Tavi Systems