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Easy Ways To Back Up Your Computer Files Before It's Too Late

Apr 14, 2008
In a perfect world you'd never have to worry about losing any of the important files on your computer. But in reality the chances of you losing everything on your computer are pretty high. Most people have pictures, tax files, resumes and a host of other important files on their computer but have never made a backup copy. A hard drive crash or a virus could wipe out everything tomorrow, so why haven't you backed up your data yet?

I believe the reason most people haven't backed up their files is that they're not sure how to do it. So let's look at some simple ways to give your data a second life and give you some peace of mind.

An important first consideration is to insure that all your files are in one place. By that, I mean that if you save all your files in your My Documents then it makes it easy to find all the files you need to back up. In fact you can simply backup that one folder, along with its contents, and you're done. On the other hand if you commonly save files on your desktop or other places on your computer you have to remember where they are so you can back them up as well. Personally, I'd move everything into the My Documents folder.

If you don't have a lot of media like music and pictures to back up the easiest thing to do is buy an inexpensive USB flash drive. If you do have a lot of media I'd suggest buying an external hard drive. You can find an external hard drive online for around $100.

Once you have an external device to back up your files you could simply copy your important files by dragging your files from your My Documents to the external drive. For a one time backup that works great, but if you're like most people, you're constantly creating new files that should be backed up as well. If you'd like to easily schedule regular backups I'd suggest using a free program called SyncBack, which can be found on Download.com. SyncBack allows you to choose what you want to back up and schedule it to run automatically. I'd suggest setting up a weekly or monthly backup of your files.

In case of a fire or natural disaster it may be a good idea to keep a copy of important files in another location. If you can't afford to buy an external drive or would prefer having your files offsite I'd suggest using MediaMax.com. They allow you to store 25GBs of data online for free. They've even recently added a free backup & synchronization service. It's secure and easy to use.

An article about data backups wouldn't be complete without mentioning Acronis True Image. If your hard drive were to ever crash you'd have buy a new hard drive, then reinstall your Operating System, the drivers, all your programs and finally re-load all the files you backed up. Acronis True Image costs $50 but it allows you to make an exact image of your entire hard drive so, should yours fail, you would install a new hard drive and restore the Acronis image and your computer would be exactly like it was the last time you created the image. An Acronis image would save several hours of work so unless you were intending to just buy a new computer if yours ever crashed you may want to consider this option.

This article has given you several simple options to backup your computer files but the most important thing I can leave you with is to do something now. Knowledge without action is useless and you'll appreciate the piece of mind you'll have knowing your most important files are safely backed up.
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