by Paul Sanders
Without backing up your files, storing infomration on just one computer is risky. Viruses, worms, spyware and just plain hardware failure can all threaten your precious photos, music and files. You can avoid losing your data by properly backing up your important files and even your entire operating system. Backing up files and programs is like having an insurance policy on your data. If you update your backup files regularly, your next computer crash or failure will be much less painful. Whether you're using backup software or storage and blank media, backing up your files is a good idea.
Burn important files to CDs. If you have a CD or DVD burner drive on your desktop or laptop computer, you can back up important files and photos onto compact disc. If the files are really sensitive and don't change frequently, make two backup copies and store one in a secure location, like a safety deposit box. If you have a disaster, such as a fire or flood, those files will survive.
Back up to an external hard drive. External hard drives have become cheap and portable. You can back up your files and even your whole operating system to one of these hard drives. If your system crashes or your original hard drive fails, you will still have the backup files on the external hard drive.
USB flash drive. If you only need to back up a few files, try a USB flash drive. You can store several gigabytes on a portable USB flash drive. This backup method is ideal for small, frequent backups, so you won't have to burn a new CD every time the file changes.
Use backup software. You can purchase backup software that will help you identify and select backup files. The software will then update and back up those files to an external hard drive or other storage device. This is ideal because the backup software will back up files even if you forget to. If you maintain anti-virus software, you can avoid backing up a virus or spyware with your backup files.
Use your computer's backup utility. Most operating systems have a backup utility program which will back up your entire computer's operating system and files periodically. This won't protect you in case of a hard drive failure, however. Also, if you have a virus on your computer, the virus will back up as well. The backup utility doesn't typically screen for viruses.