Tech Tip – Backing Up Important Files

One of the least reliable computer devices ever was the 3 1/2″ floppy disk. I know that I personally lost a few files from bad disks and people in college were losing files all the time. It was a bad technology. That’s one of the problems with disks . . . they can break. So, what should you do to back up your files? Here are three suggestions:

1 – Burn them to CD/DVD
Most computers today have either a CD or DVD burner. With CDs, you can back up probably all your documents and a lot of pictures to one disc. If you’re planning on backing up a lot of pictures or mp3s you’ll want to have a DVD burner since they hold a lot more data. This is a good solution if you have a lot of school papers or other important documents that you want to keep safe. A downside to this solution is that discs can scratch or get lost. You want to make sure you write what you copied on to the disc after the burn is complete. I can’t tell you how many CDs I have that I have to stick the in drive to figure out what I put on it.

2. Copy them to a USB Drive
Some of the newer storage devices are USB Flash Drives (also known as “Jump Drives”). These little devices have really grown in popularity over the past year or two. They are small enough to fit in your pocket and sometimes are able attach to your key chain. They come in various storage capacities, with the most popular being 256 MB, 512 MB, and 1 GB. One of the best things about these little drives, besides their small size, is that there are no drivers required. Which means you can plug them right into a USB port on any computer (PC or Mac) and it will be ready to go in seconds. This option is really good if you’re moving back and forth between multiple computers and are working on larger or multiple files. One downside is they are easy to misplace due to their small size. Another problem with them is their key chain attachment. The two that I’ve owned have either had the cap break or has fallen off and gotten lost. Other than those two problems these little devices are great pieces of technology.

3 – Email the file to yourself
One of the quickest and easiest backups is to email the file(s) to yourself. With the increased storage size with the free email accounts (gmail, yahoo, hotmail) and bigger attachment sizes this has become, in my opinion, the best way to backup your files. All you do is send an email like you normally would, but address it to yourself. I’ve used this method probably a hundred times. You probably don’t want to save any financial records or other sensitive personal information this way, just to protect yourself from the chance of your mail provider’s servers being hacked, but for everything else I recommend this. What I like most about it is that it gives you an off-site, non-physical (at least to you) backup of the file. The importance of this is important to understand. You could have the file(s) saved to your computer, laptop, CD, and jump drive, but if your house burns down and all of these burn with it, you’re out of luck. This option protects you from even fire.

If you have any other ideas for backing up files, please leave a comment.

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