The most important thing you can do to safeguard your data is to back it up! Yes, it can be time-consuming. Yes, it is a hassle. But the most valuable thing isn't the computer itself, but the data on it. Re-creating data is not easy, and in some cases is not possible. Say, for instance, that you store all your chapters for your next great book. Can you re-create them? Say, as another example, that you store all your contact information about your company on your computer. Can you re-create that data from a hodge-podge of business cards you might be able to round up?
You take for granted the accessibility of your data. Take your Address Book. With it, you can easily send email to all your friends, colleagues, and relatives. Without it, do you really know all the email addresses in that simple file by heart?
That's why backing up your data is so critical. You should get in the habit of backing up your entire system at regular intervals and backing up your documents (data files) even more frequently.
Selecting Backup Programs and Equipment
To back up your files, you need backup media and a backup program. Media refers to the types of items you use to store your backup files. Before the hard drives on computers got so big, you commonly backed up your data to floppy disks. Now, backing up your system to floppy disks would be ludicrous (although you can use floppy disks as a quick method to back up important data files). Instead, you most commonly back up to a CD-R, CD-RW, or DVD drive. You also may purchase a special backup medium called a tape drive. You can then back up files using the tape drive.
To perform the backup, you need a backup program. The program not only performs the backup, but also provides options for selecting which files are backed up. Windows XP includes a backup program, but this program is not installed and is not easily accessed. (The program is stored on a folder on your Windows XP CD. See the following tip for information on finding this program.)
You can also purchase backup programs. If you purchase a tape backup system, for instance, it usually comes with software for backing up. Also, some utility programs (sets of programs handy for maintaining and troubleshooting your computer) include backup programs.
You can find manysometimes even freebackup programs by visiting any of the freeware or shareware sites on the Internet. Some popular programs include Back it Up, Monday Backup, Winbacker, Sysback (for backing up system files), and Backup Pro.
Tips for Backing Up
Here are some tips to make backing up more efficient: