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Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s computer crashed and she lost everything she ever wrote? That was so last century, right? Unfortunately, in 2011 computers still do crash (and get dropped, yikes!).
Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to make sure you protect everything on your computer, from your vacation photos and last year’s tax info to your big presentation for work.
First, make sure you have a USB Flash drive (also called a memory stick), key drive or thumb drive, named such because they are about the size of your thumb. The small size makes them ultra-portable and ideal from transferring documents from one computer to another. These plug into your USB drive (there’s usually two or more of these ports on your computer). Then you just drag the files you want to copy to the USB drive folder on your Desktop. Easy, right? Not only that, there are tons of options for thumb drives, from high-end products, like this silvered USB from LaCie, to these super cute designs that can be found at Gadget4all.com.
To back up your entire computer, an external hard drive is the way to go. These can also connect to your computer via a USB, but their larger capacity allows you to make a copy of everything on your computer, including applications and large-sized files. Any electronics store should have a good selection of backup drives. Before you get overwhelmed with options, though, all you need to look at is the amount of data the hard drive can store. A good rule of thumb is to purchase one with twice as much memory capacity as your computer. If your laptop has a 4 Gigabyte hard drive, for example, look for an external device with at least 8 Gigs of space. You might even own an external hard drive already; did you know you can use your iPod to back up data?
Finally, if you have a huge amount of very important data to protect (say you run a business from your home computer), there is remote backup via the Internet. Your files arenΓÇÖt stored physically on any device but are saved at and by a company specializing in this service. They can schedule backups on a regular basis and restore any lost information. This can be an expensive option, but the security and┬áidentity theft protection┬áthat it offers is priceless.
No matter how important you think your files are, it’s crucial that you take the time to regularly back up your computer. Now you know how to protect your data, so don’t wait until you spill coffee on your laptop!
photo credit: LaCie