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Saving and Backing Up Your Computer

The computer, and the internet, have become two of the most important things in our lives. We depend on the internet for news, knowledge, training, communication and the list is endless. We depend on our computers to get us to that information and to give us a safe and convenient place, in which to store it. But, at the same time, we never think ahead. What if something happens to your computer – How do you recover your information? The real concern is can you get it back? Is it lost forever? Do not wait until your computer fails to ask those questions. Be proactive. There are so many simple measures that will be lifesaving for the future. Here are just a few:

1. Create Specific Folders for Specific and Important Information

You cannot retrieve what you cannot find! I am sure if you saw someone walking into their bedroom, just scattering their clothes all over the room, not putting them in their perspective draws, you would be thinking “what a mess”. That is exactly what people do with their documentation. I have had people say to me, “I don’t know where it is, I just hit save, and now it’s gone”. In essence, they are scattering their documents all over the hard drive. To ensure that you can backup your work, or find what you need quickly, you have to know where you put it and what you named it. Make sure that you create folders with user-friendly titles that make sense. Calling a folder by an initial or a number might not be too cool when you start looking for that information months later. If you have banking information, call it banking info – create a subfolder in that folder called years, statements, with months or quarters. The more diversified the documentation, the more specific you need to be with its label. It just takes a few seconds to avoid hours of grief in the future.

2. Why Back Up Your Information Externally?

No one wants to experience a computer crash, hard drive problem, or boot up problems. Statics show they do occur and can happen to anyone. Whether your computer is new or older, there is no guarantee that it will run smoothly, or that the hard drive will not simply stop working. Sometimes there are no warning signs. One day all is good, the next day can be the opposite. We can and need to protect what is most valuable to us. Pictures, personal documentation, business documentation, music, password lists, e-mail, your browser favorites, are all in fact, irreplaceable.

3. Question: How Do I Back up my Information - What are my choices:

a. CDR/DVD Burner. First, you need to have a DVD/CDR or an external burner to use.

  • Put your CDR or DVD in the slot.
  • A windows menu will appear with the choice to Open Writable CD Folder with Explorer. Highlight that choice and say OK.
  • A window will open showing you a blank window where your CDR/DVD is now being recognized as blank space.
  • Right click on start - left click on explore. Find the files you want to back up. Left click on the file/s - drag and drop them files into the open window on the right side. Be careful that you are in the right folder and not a windows or system or program folder.
  • Left click on the top left side - Write these files to CD
  • Another window will appear and you can now give your label a short unique name. Leave the checkmark in to close after using, unless you want to burn another CD-R/DVD.
  • Hit Next – It will immediately start processing your command
  • When it is through, your window will be blank again and your CD-R/DVD door will open with your backup. Label it immediately with date and title – store in a CD cover and create a box or folder to store within in place without sun or humidity.

What if I do not have a Burner?

If the options mentioned below are not the answer for you, you will need to purchase an external DVD or CD-R burner that can be attached by USB. They usually come with software. If not, Real Radio and Windows Media Player are great burning software options.

b. Flash Drives/Jump Drives

Flash Drives or Jump Drives are handy little external USB storage drives. They come in all sizes, are light and can easily be carried around. With no installation needed, you simply connect it to any free USB port on your computer, wait for the recognition and then copy any documentation to the drive. Be aware of the sizes of the drive and the size of your information. If you get, get a 2 Gb drive – you can store endless amounts of text. If you want to only use a flash drive for all, then consider buying a larger capacity 4 Gb drive. They can easily transport and install any documentation, pictures or music files to another computer. Did you know that your Little MP3 players are just flash drives. They can also store text and pictures

c. Internet Back Up

Another alternative or extra measure is to back up on the internet. (1) If you have a website, you can FTP your files to a folder on your site and store on your own website. Normally, you have plenty of space to use. After all, you are already paying a monthly fee for the site. This is a very handy alternative. (2) Your other option is to sign up with an internet back up company. Do your research. Many companies determine price by size. Look for flat rates. This insures that your documentation, pictures, e-mail, whatever you back up is safely somewhere else. It is user friendly and a great comfort to have as an extra alternative. Comes in quite handy if you are moving and want to make sure all your documentation is backed up on the internet, before you physically have to shut down your machine and move your software and computer to another location.

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