Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trouble Spot Tuesday

Computer Backups:

There’s nothing like that sinking feeling of seeing your computer crash and wondering what the hell you’ve lost. Important documents? Precious photos? Years worth of email? Yikes.

I had a laptop stolen earlier this year (long story, another post) and fortunately I didn’t have much on it, however, there were some files on it that I’m still missing and wishing I had backed up somewhere. ANYWHERE.

Since I just ran my backup today, I thought that it was a good time, probably PAST time to remind you to backup the files on your computer too. You’d think that having worked in IT for so long I’d do this more often, but I don’t. And I should. And I will.

I employ 2 methods:

1) I use Norton’s 360 backup feature and backup my files every 1-2 weeks to an external backup drive that I connect to my laptop with a USB cable. Very simple, very easy. It basically does it for me.

2) Every few months, I burn cds/dvds of all of my photos, which believe it or not, considering how scattered I usually am about stuff like this, are organized in a very simple way in folders: Photos/Year/Month/Any Special Events. This has made it so easy to find the photos I want and it makes it simple for me to know the approximate dates of the photos as well. I can usually fit a couple of months per cd/dvd, depending on how many photos I’ve taken.

There are many options available and if you’re computer was purchased within the last few years, it likely already has backup software on it, so unless you do some really complicated stuff, (and if you do, you’re likely skipping this post, so uh yeah…) that should make it pretty simple. You can also purchase backup software at any electronics retail store and most of the major antivirus software companies sell bundles that include backup protection as well.

External media is becoming very affordable as well. Large external hard drives (like 200-300 Gig) are right around the $100-150 range. What’s nice about the external hard drive is that not only does it offer plenty of space for the average user, but you can also connect these hard drives to just about any other computer which is a good thing when your computer has taken the big toast and you’re stranded.

Failing that, take some time and burn your photos, documents, address books and email to cd or dvd. Label them well and store them somewhere safe.

How often do you need to run your backups? Well, that depends on how much you store on your computer. If you’re adding pictures or have a lot of documents or email, then at least weekly, if not daily. If you’re an occasional user who doesn’t really store a lot on your computer, every few weeks or once a month might be enough.

Take the time and do it soon. Like maybe now. Consider it an investment to protect those items that you won’t realize how much you miss until they’re gone.

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