Friday, December 5, 2014

20 Back-ups You Should Make Today

After a month of cyber insecurity--a crashed website, switching to a new cell phone/SIM card which nearly wiped out all of my phone data, and having my email service become inaccessible for a few days...thanks Yahoo--I decided I better get busy with some end of the year tasks that I have been putting off (like backing up all of my important stuff).  Here are 20 back-ups you should make today (save these things to a thumb drive or external hard drive):

  1. All of the files on your computer.
  2. All of your scanned/digital pictures.
  3. All of your cell phone contacts.
  4. Any other important information on your cell phone.
  5. All of your email contacts.
  6. Any important emails that you don't want to lose.
  7. All important paper documents (passport, driver's license, marriage certificate, wills and medical power of attorney, etc).
  8. Any papers you have collected that you would be lost without (I have generations of paper birth and death records from my genealogy research, many of which would be difficult if not impossible to replace so these are scanned into my computer then saved with my backed up files).
  9. A sheet with all of your usernames and passwords, bank account information, etc.
  10. Your calendar.
  11. Your websites and blogs.
  12. Music from your computer/cell phone/iPod/etc.
  13. Any videos that you don't want to lose.
  14. Important financial records (taxes, income statements, etc).
  15. Bookmarked websites (if you have a giant list of them and don't want to lose them).
  16. Your computer operating system (if you need to wipe your entire system and your computer didn't come with a backup/restoration disc this is a good idea).
  17. Any work files you would be lost without (computer files, scanned paper files, etc).
  18. Other people's files as appropriate (for example, a friend has sent me some of his personal records to keep "just in case" like his DD-214 and a copy of his Will which I am the executor of; the daughter who is going through a divorce sends me copies of all documents relating to her divorce; etc.  I may never need any of these things but if the people who sent them to me for safe keeping request them, I would like to have them easily accessible and not lost in the black hole of cyberspace).
  19. Any proprietary data that you could lose access too (in the case of using Ancestry for genealogy research/file keeping, if you stop paying for the service you could lose access to your information so be sure to download and save this information regularly). 
  20. Any other digital data not included above (ie: you may have files on your tablet that aren't on your computer or cell phone that you want to keep copies of).

And five more tips:
  1. Using the cloud (DropBox, etc) for back up is OK but I still don't trust that their system won't be hacked and all of your data could be lost.
  2. Be sure to regularly back up all of these documents (changing formats if necessary).  If you back up all of your documents then don't revisit this data occasionally, software/hardware may change and you could lose access to the data.  For example, if you backed up your files to a floppy disc years ago, good luck finding both the hardware (floppy disc drive) and software (MS Office 1.5) needed to access the files.
  3. Determine where you will back up your files.  I prefer a thumb drive with adequate capacity but others find these unstable and prefer to use an external hard drive.
  4. Always keep your backed up files somewhere other than where your computer is.  If your home burns down you don't want to lose both your computer and the external hard drive where all of your files are backed up to.  Similarly, if you keep your back up at work and the business shuts down with no notice you would lose access to your back up as well.
  5. Be sure that whatever back up system you choose is able to password protect your documents (you don't want someone to find your external drive and be able to access all of your personal documents).

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