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feature article "Back Up Your Data" is an invaluable
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OK, be honest, how often do you
data on your computer? Once a week, every month, ever? If you're like
most people, not very often. Yet the information stored on your hard
drive can be incredibly valuable. Think of your financial records, business
contacts, e-mail addresses, letters and so on. Then there's your music and video
What would happen if it all disappeared? How long would it
take and how much would it cost to replace the missing data? Can't happen? It does
happen. It happens
every day for a variety of reasons:
The disk drive
fails for mechanical reasons.
Your computer is stolen--laptops are particularly vulnerable.
Your computer is destroyed by fire, floods or other disasters.
A power surge fries your machine (Make sure you have a surge protector
on your computer equipment.)
An employee accidentally or intentionally erases data.
A virus infects your system, wiping out key files
Your hard drive crashes. Sooner or later it will fail; the only question
Computer files can be restored in the event of a crash, but
it will cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In the meantime, you
will be without essential data.
If you diligently
backup your system and store the backups off-site, you're in good
shape. But most of us never do--until it's too late.
What to Backup
The good news is that you don't need to copy every file on your hard drive.
These days, that would entail many
gigabytes of data. You only have to backup your own data
files, such as word processing documents, spreadsheets, e-mail, digital photos,
graphics, video, music, etc. Basically, any files you've created, downloaded or
that were sent to you. You probably already have copies on CD-ROMs or DVDs of
your programs--Microsoft Office applications, games and such. In the event that
your computer crashes, you can use those to restore the programs, or in many
cases, you can download replacement programs from the Internet.
How to Backup Files
There is a variety of ways to backup your files. You
can use removable media
like CD-ROMs, DVDs, data tapes or external hard drives. Recordable media cost
little and also provide an excellent way to share data with friends and
colleagues. CD-ROMs hold 650 Mb and DVDs store 4.7 gigabytes. You can now buy
external drives that store as much as 750 gigabytes of data--an excellent way to
safeguard your growing music and video collection.
backup your files, first insert the storage medium in the drive. (If you use an
external hard drive, then it should appear with a letter designation in Windows
Explorer.) If you use Windows, launch Windows Explorer. You'll find it in the
Programs folder under the Start menu.
locate the files you want to copy. Place your mouse pointer on the folder or
file, hold down the left mouse button, then drag it to the appropriate drive.
Copying files can take a while depending on how many you have and the speed of
After you've backed up all the files, open a few to make
sure they copied correctly. Now remove the disk, label and date it. Finally,
store your backups in a secure place, preferably off-site.
You can also backup your files by uploading
them to a remote server. There are a number of services out there. Some will
give some free space and more space for a fee.
Do your home work. We don't recommend any
service over another, but don't rely on this as your only backup.
After you register, select the files you
want to backup from your hard drive, then upload them. There are Windows software programs that schedules your backups
automatically. What could be easier?
An advantage of storing your files online is that you can
access them from any computer by logging onto the Internet.
If you follow this procedure regularly, you may sleep
better at night! If you have particular concerns or general questions about
backup, please call.
420 North Sacramento Street, Suite #3, Lodi, California