Most people get complacent about protecting the data on their computers. The time to back up your data is before you experience a problem. Don't set yourself up for a disaster if your computer hard drive crashes.
Your data integrity action plan should consist of the following:
1) How often you will back up your data
2) What data you will back up
3) What back up procedure you will use
How often you back up your data can only be determined by how important you feel it is. Answer this question, "If my hard drive crashed right now, would I be alright if I had the data from at least (time) ago?" For some people, a daily backup is required while for others it may be weekly depending on how often you create important data files.
Of course you would want everything but if you could have the data from 1 month, or 6 months ago would that be sufficient? Whatever time is sufficient, mark it on your calendar and set up a reminder on your PC to help you remember. Another idea is to use an automatic backup program where you can set up specific times for the backup program to run.
Should I back up my entire hard drive?
What data you back up depends on how you use your PC. Some of the key directories, if you are using the Windows operating system, are the My Documents, Favorites, Program Files, and Desktop directories.
Remember if you are using multiple profiles on your PC then some of the directories above can be different for each profile and each one would need to be backed up.
You will also want to include your email data. Don't forget to write down the email accounts you have. You should also write down any username and passwords so they are not lost. You should look at every directory to see if it has information that you would need.
Make a list of all the software programs you are using. If you have the physical CDs put them all together in a safe location. Don't forget the CDs for your peripherals like your scanner, digital camera, PDA etc?
Collecting these CDs may remind you of additional data that you need to back up.
If you are running software that you installed from downloaded files, burn them to a CD-R and add it to your collection. If you use a CD-R or DVD-R you can update it as you download and install new applications.
How should I back up my data?
What procedure you use to back up your data can be determined by the amount of data you want to back up. Your data might fit onto a CD or DVD in which case you just need to burn it and you're done.
If it spans multiple DVDs then you might want to consider getting a second hard drive to copy your data onto. If you are not comfortable with adding a second internal hard drive or you are using a laptop then you can purchase an external hard drive to back up your data. An external hard drive that uses USB 2.0 is a very convenient way to back up yoru data. You just have to plug in the drive to the USB port of your computer and you're ready to go.
The information you have on your hard drive could disappear in a flash. If you don't want to spend thousands of dollars to have a data recovery company retrieve what information they can from your hard drive, then take a few minutes right now and create your back up action plan.
If you ever have a data emergency your action plan will be your insurance policy. If you adhere to it, your valuable data will adhere to you!
Jim Scotty maintains a website with the latest news updates on . This article may be reprinted provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and with the hyperlink and author information kept intact.