Backing Up Your Files

Don Trauger

Most of you have heard the term “backup”. It means to save a file or files that you
have created on your computer and store them in another area for safe keeping.
Normally when you save a file on your computer it is stored on the computer’s hard
drive. That’s fine as long the hard drive is working correctly. But what would happen
if there is a catastrophic failure of the hard drive? Not only would the computer not
start, all of your data would be gone. If you value your data (pictures, letters,
financial, etc.) you should think about backing up those files. Making a duplicate
copy of an important file and saving it on the same hard drive is NOT backing up
in the true sense. You need to store the file elsewhere.

What are your choices? There is the old reliable floppy disk. However, newer computers
don’t come with floppy drives anymore. If you have a floppy drive you can save your
data to it by clicking on “File” which is usually located in the upper left corner of
the program you are using. Click Save As and in the pop-up Save As window, click the
little down arrow in the Save in: field. Then click on 3 floppy (A:). If necessary,
give your file a name in the File name: field then click the Save button. You have
now backed up your file. Floppy disks only hold 1.44Mbs of data and you can run out
of space quickly when saving a number of pictures. A better backup device is the flash
drive. This electronic device plugs into the USB port in your computer and can save
more than 5000 times the amount a floppy disk can. They come in all sizes and prices
from 512MBs up to 8GBs and higher. A typical price ranges from $10 – $30. To use just
plug into any USB port and follow the preceding instructions for the floppy. Note
however, in the Save in: field, click on the name of your Flash drive instead of the floppy (A 🙂 There’s one last easy choice and that is burning your data files to a
CD. The best way to do that is to open your CD disk burning program and choose
Create Data Disk”. Next locate your data files and add them to a list that the program
knows to burn. Although burning a disk is a little more difficult than using a floppy
or flash drive it’s a more permanent way to save your files. Flash drives can be
corrupted and floppy disks can be physically damaged from handling. CD’s can be
scratched too but they are more durable than floppies.

So far I have touched on backing up your data files. There is one other type of backup
that works by copying all of the files on your hard drive to another external hard
drive. These are usually very large capacity hard drives that again can plug into the
USB port. They come with their own software to copy the files. Prices are generally
in the $100 – $150 range. However, what I found was that the software accompanying
one particular external drive didn’t copy the Registry files from the computer’s hard
drive. This failure would be disastrous if you were trying to restore that backup to
your computer’s hard drive. I eventually found better software that would do a
complete backup. In summing up, I can only recommend this type of backup for
experienced users that can work with computers and solve potential backup problems
that may arise.

Backing up your computer’s files and answers to other computer questions can be
found by attending our PC Club meetings. They are held on the second Tuesday of each
month, upstairs in the Community Center starting at 7:00 PM.