Get into the habit of periodically backing up your customization files (CUI files, tool palettes, blocks, AutoLISP routines, linetypes, plot files, etc.), especially right before you make any changes to them. One approach is to store all customized files and folders in the same location on your computer. Check the paths in the Tools / Options dialog box (Files tab) to find the locations of these files.
Browse to the files, then create shortcuts and store them in your backup folder. Click on the shortcut and copy the CUI files to your backup folder. To back everything up, just copy the backup folder to a flash drive, CD, or other location not on your hard drive. If storage space is not at a premium, you could just back up your entire AutoCAD directory (or AutoCAD Support directory).
What should you back up? Here’s a list of typical files and file extensions targeted for backup. You’ll want to add or subtract from the list according to what files you most often customize.
Hatch Patterns and Linetypes
*.pat AutoCAD hatch pattern definition files
acad.pat: Standard AutoCAD hatch pattern library file
acadiso.pat: Standard AutoCAD ISO hatch pattern library file
*.lin AutoCAD linetype definition files
acad.lin: The standard AutoCAD linetype library file
acadiso.lin: The standard AutoCAD ISO linetype library file
*.mln Multiline library file
In AutoCAD 2006 onward, the main menu file is called acad.cui (or acadlt.cui). Custom menus are stored in a file called custom.cui. Other menu-related files include acad.mnr, for menu bitmap images, and acad.mnl, for AutoLISP routines used by the menu.
Earlier releases use a trio of files: acad.mnu, acad.mns, and acad.mnc. Acad.mns is the menu source file (plain text format), acad.mnu is a template menu file (also plain text format), and acad.mnc is a compiled file that AutoCAD creates from the acad.mns source file.
The most common file extensions you’re likely to encounter are:
*.dcl Dialog box files (DCL = Dialog Control Language)
*.lsp AutoLISP program files
acad.lsp: A user-defined AutoLISP routine that loads each time AutoCAD starts
acaddoc.lsp: A user-defined AutoLISP routine that loads each time you start a drawing
Note: AutoLISP routines that have been compiled in Visual LISP use the .fas extension
*.scr AutoCAD script files. A script file contains a set of AutoCAD commands processed as a batch.
*.dvb Visual Basic for Applications files
*.pc3 Plotter configuration file.
*.atc Tool palettes
Note: *.xtp files are tool palettes exported for use on other computers
*.aws Workspace profiles
asi.ini Database connectivity link conversion mapping file
acad.pgp Program parameters file contains definitions for external commands and command aliases.
acad.psf PostScript support file; the master support file for the PSOUT and PSFILL commands.
acad.rx Lists ObjectARX applications that load when you start AutoCAD
*.shp Shape/font definition files. Compiled shape/font files have the extension SHX.
acad.unt Unit definition file contains data that lets you convert from one set of units to another.
You can also use the Windows Backup Utility if you don’t want to mess around with your folder structure. The program resides in Accessories / System Tools, accessible by clicking on Start, then All Programs.
If the utility doesn’t appear under Accessories, you may need to install it from your Windows installation disk. This example is for Windows XP. Load the CD. On the Welcome screen, select Perform Additional Tasks, then Browse this CD. When Windows Explorer opens, double-click the ValueAdd folder, then Msft, then Ntbackup. Double-click Ntbackup.msi to install the backup utility.
By default, the Backup Wizard starts when you launch the utility. If it’s been turned off, select Tools, then Backup Wizard. Click the Next button to navigate through the wizard. In the window that asks What do you want to do?, select Back up files and settings.
Next, specify what exactly you want backed up. Choices include your documents and settings, all users’ documents and settings, and all information on this computer (not recommended). You can also select specific files to back up. This is the best choice when you have files stored outside the My Documents folder or have files there that you don’t want to back up.
The next wizard window asks for the type of backup (usually File) and the location to store the backed up files. Select Browse to select a spot on your hard drive, a flash or zip drive, network location, etc. Note that the utility can’t save to a CD drive.
When the Finish button appears, don’t. Instead, select the Advanced button, then click on Next to open the When to Back Up page. Select Later, then select Set Schedule to have the backup routine run automatically on a set schedule.