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We all store important business and personal information on our computers, and we all know that we should back up that information for peace of mind against system failures or disaster. So let me ask – do you have a backup plan? If you don’t, here are some steps to get you started.
1. Create a Word document or text file of all the software loaded on your computer and the devices attached to it.
2. Locate the original CDs or pass keys and registration information (which you might have saved in an email folder). Store them in a safe place, like a fireproof box.
3. Review the types of files you keep and how much space you are using.
4. Invest in a suitable external drive (i.e. a flash drive, CDs, or other media) and make sure it has more capacity than what you currently use.
5. Investigate backup software. A backup package may have come with your operating system, but there are other options as well, including online backup services.
6. Set a backup schedule. This can be automated. Weekly is good; daily is better if you create or update important files daily. If you’re working on a big project, back it up even more often.
7. Execute your backup. All programs should be closed while the backup is rolling and be aware that it could take a while.
8. Test the results by partially restoring or retrieving results from ALL sources. Are copies of your documents, pictures, video files and other data files THERE (wherever you intended them to be?) Can you retrieve them?
9. Store your external drives somewhere secure, preferably away from your computer.
10. Commit to step 6 – run your next backup on schedule, and keep doing it. It’ll soon become habit.
Consider using a specialist for guidance. Frankie OnCall is here to help. Lastly, remember this: there are two kinds of people in this world, those who back up and those who will.
“That can’t happen”, you say. “I have a webmail account. My webmail provider keeps a backup, doesn’t it?”
Yes, probably – but what if some disaster wipes out access to your files? On February 27, 2011, as reported by the Huffington Post and many other news sources, a glitch caused thousands of Gmail users to find their inboxes totally empty. Fortunately Google was able to restore the data within a week, from tape backups. But what if they hadn’t been able to? Or what if you accidentally deleted an entire folder? Or had your account hacked?
It just makes sense to backup your webmail files, just as you backup your computer files. (You do, don’t you?) Here are three free options:
Gmail Backup is an open source program developed to backup and restore Gmail mailboxes. It’s free to download, and fairly straightforward – enter your Gmail account and password, select a backup location, and go. The upside – it’s free and fairly straightforward. The downside – there are few features, and very little documentation.
MailStore Home runs on Windows only. It archives email from many different sources, including webmail. And the home version is free. MailStore works for Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo email, though only Gmail (Google mail) is directly offered on the menu. Need more help with the others? Try an internet search for “backing up Hotmail AND MailStore” or similar phrase.
Thunderbird Is actually an email client that resides on your computer; it’s not webmail. BUT, it can also be used to backup your webmail accounts. How? Download a copy of Thunderbird to your computer. During setup you’ll be asked for your email address and the mail from your webmail account will be copied into Thunderbird. From then on, run Thunderbird as often as you want to grab the most recent emails from your webmail account.
These methods provide backup storage for your webmail account. And if you download the file to a removable drive rather than your computer hard drive – and then remove the drive for safekeeping — you’ll add yet another level of backup. Frankie OnCall can provide additional information and assistance if needed.