By Christine Dunnells
There is nothing worse than having your computer decide it does not want to start. Panic starts to set in, a rush and scramble to fix the problem starts to take hold. High anxiety starts to flare as you think of all the photos and documents you have stored on this device only! Yikes!
Stop, take a breath… Don’t make any sudden, rash decisions at this point. Oftentimes the current situation you find yourself in is less hazardous than the choices you are about to make out of fear and panic!
So let’s talk about a few best practices that any individual can take to help mitigate the devastating loss of important stuff!
1. Develop and establish good habits! Decide on a plan for how you will backup your data, where you will back it up, and how often. I say “good habits” for a reason. It is all too easy to get busy and just keep putting off those regular backups till another time. This is where you need to be faithful and dedicated! And in doing so, good habits will be born.
2. Decide on the backup medium you will use. It could be an external hard drive, a USB flash drive or even the cloud. While I wouldn’t solely count on the cloud for your backup, it would make an excellent choice for a redundant backup location for your files. I personally use Dropbox to hold all of my SMCC school documents. This was a lifesaver when I lost my hard drive recently, two weeks from finals! I recommend using the Google Drive that comes with your school account for the most convenient access and backup method.
3. Once you have chosen your medium, decide on the tool you will use to back up your data. You could decide to manually copy and paste your folders to your backup media as needed, or you could use software to do this for you. Windows 8 and Windows 10 offer a free built-in backup solution called File History. You may need to turn this on and you will need to set it up, but once it is set up, the backups can be scheduled and set to automatically run. To see how to set up File History in Windows 8 and 10 so that it automatically backs up the selected data to your external medium, visit my “How to” page here: https://tinyurl.com/yamxrvys.
4. Now decide what files and data are important to you, the ones that you do not want to lose, and find their locations. If you are using backup software, make sure to choose all the locations of the files you want backed up regularly in your backup schedule.
5. There are several options for backing up data from third-party browsers and other programs. If you use browsers other than Internet Explorer, like Firefox or Chrome, I recommend setting up a free account and logging into your browser when using it. This will allow the automatic syncing of all your browser’s preferences and settings, which in turn provides access to these from any device, anywhere. If you use Edge, then these settings are automatically a part of your Microsoft account and are being synced.
Signing into your device with a Microsoft Account (formerly Windows Live ID) also provides a nice way to keep your settings and preferences backed up. All of the apps and settings you have with your account will be made available and synced across all your devices. If you are using Windows 7 still, Microsoft has made a way for you to link your Windows 7 user account with your Windows Live ID. You can download the Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant from the Microsoft website.
It is important to know if and where your data is being backed up some programs so that you can make sure to include them in your backup settings. Once you choose the right settings that work for you, you are all set to just let the program do its thing. All that is required from you now is access to the backup medium by the program.
So, let’s review what we just talked about:
1. Establish “good habits”
2. Choose your backup medium
3. Decide what tool you will use to backup your data
4. Know the locations of your important files
5. Create backup files from programs and third party browser settings that aren’t automatic
Remember, breathe! If you incorporate good practices into your daily habits now, you will certainly lessen the catastrophe that could follow in the event your system fails you.
Christine Dunnells is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning on a career as a service technician. You canrk and contact her at You can read more of her work and contact her at christinedunnells.chrissyspcrepair.com