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Back Up Your Data! - Part 1

Why do you need to back up your data?

Backing up your data is the most important task you will perform on your computer. If you don't have a backup, you risk losing your data... permanently. It's not a matter of IF you'll lose your data, it's a matter of WHEN.

Loss of data happens in many ways. The most common cause is physical failure of the hard drive that stores your data. You have everything saved on your computer's hard drive. That hard drive will eventually fail. There's a popular saying in the computer world -- "There are only two types of hard drives - the ones that have failed and the ones that will fail."

Another cause for data loss is power failure or power surges. It can result in loss of the file you are currently working on or your entire hard drive because you did not save it before the power failed.

Virus attacks can also render your data useless. There are many computer viruses out there that will delete files on an infected machine. That's why an effective anti-virus program is extremely important.

What data should you back up?

The answer is simple. Back up anything you can't replace!

  • Documents
    • Letters
    • Reports
    • Spreadsheets
    • Mailing lists
  • Email
  • Financial Records
    • Tax Returns
    • Banking records
    • Investment records
  • Photographs
  • Music
  • Movies/Videos
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Saved games
  • Computer and program settings

One way to simplify backing up is to store all of your data in one place. That's what the "Documents" folder is for. Whenever you create a new file, like a Microsoft Word document, for example, you could save it in a sub-folder called "Word" inside the "Documents" folder. To create a folder called "Word" (you can name the folder whatever you want and create as many folders as you like):

  • Open the "Documents" folder.
  • Select the "File" menu item.
  • Select the "New" menu item.
  • Select the "Folder" menu item.
  • Enter "Word" as the name for the folder.
  • Press the "Enter" key.

Now when you want to back up your personal data, all you have to remember is to back up the entire "Documents" folder.


Backup Software

I never use specialized backup software. The main reason is this -- you cannot restore your data without the backup software program. The backed up data is written in such a way that it can only be restored by the backup program itself.

For example, if you need to restore your data, you just run the backup program and you're done. Cool, huh? Now your hard drive dies and you buy a new one. You have your backed up data but where is the backup program? It's on the dead hard drive. No problem, you say -- just reinstall the backup program and you're good to go. But wait -- where did you put the original installation disc? Can't find it? No problem -- just use the emergency recovery disc you made when you first installed the backup program. You know, the one you made according to the manual. Oh -- didn't do that, huh?

Guess what? Say bye-bye to your data or buy the software again. Let me repeat this point -- the best backup is one that has identical copies of your files that are immediately readable by any computer!

Return to top      Back Up Your Data - Part 2

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