How Do I Backup My Computer?

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Please, Please, Please… I can’t stress enough the importance of backing up your computer.  At the very least, backup or make copies of your documents, photos and any other important information like bank and financial files.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I get calls from customers who have lost everything.  Years of documents, family photos and address books, gone in a flash.  If you really don’t want to do this yourself, there are many companies that specialize in online backup, where your data is stored on their computers for safekeeping.

To backup your computer, you first need something to backup to.  In the early days, a floppy disk was fine, but they do not hold enough data to be of any value today.  A CD writer, DVD writer, second internal hard drive or external USB drive will all suffice.  Check out our store area for backup devices for more details.

Depending on your backup needs, you may need some backup software. However, Windows does have a backup routine built in or you can just copy the files you want to one of the above devices.  But if you want to automate the process by having your system backup at night or at specific times without your intervention, you will want to purchase a backup program.  One important step is to scan your whole computer for viruses before backing up your files.  You don’t want to backup any viruses with your data.

It is always a good idea to plan your backup needs before your start.  Write a list of all the programs you normally use and take note of how large they are and where the files are saved.  The size of the files will help you decide which type of backup device is best for you.  Next you have to decide what data is important to you.  The operating system and programs themselves can be reinstalled from the original disks, so you may not need to backed them up.  But, the things that you create like MS Word documents, email and photos may be important and should be backed up.  After you have decided as to what needs to be backed up and how large the files are, you have to determine how often you want to backup these files.  Obviously, backing up every hour would be the best, but this may be just too much to do.  So you must decide how much data you could afford to loose, one hours worth, one days worth or maybe a weeks worth of data.  If you lost everything right now, what would you really want or need.  With this information in hand, you set your backup schedule and stick to it.  You never know when your hard drive will fail, a lightning bolt will hit or a virus will take everything.

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