Four Ways to Backup Your Files

Have you ever tried to access a file on your computer only to discover that it was somehow corrupted and won’t open? Has the hard drive of your computer ever crash beyond repair? You know where this conversation is headed, don’t you?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of computer files disappearing, never to be found again, because of hardware or software problems, or user error, a brain fart that resulted in hitting the delete key by accident. And, nowadays with our devices becoming more portable, it’s very easy to imagine losing your laptop, tablet or phone or for someone to pick it up and walk away—with ALL your data!

Can you imagine how devastating that would be? Losing your whole manuscript? Or, if you’re a photographer, losing all your pictures?

A Bit of an Aside

A couple of months ago, I found a memory card in a puddle in the parking lot at Walmart. It wasn’t a card format that I’d ever used before so I wasn’t sure that I would be able to view the files on it, but I picked it up and thought that I would try to identify the people on the card and return it to them.

I was convinced that it might be someone’s precious baby pictures or maybe even some hundred year old granny’s birthday party pictures, and that the family would love to have these pictures returned to them. It was going to be my good deed for the day.

The memory card went from my coat pocket to the kitchen countertop and sat there for weeks and then eventually migrated to my desk where it sat for several more weeks. And, then suddenly, for some reason yesterday when I booted my computer, I realized that my machine did indeed have a slot that could read the memory card. So, I popped it in and did a virus scan on it and in full Nancy Drew mode, I proceeded to open the files.

There were in excess of 500 files on the card. This was early in the morning, before breakfast or coffee, and I wasn’t too awake. I viewed the files on the smallest possible setting for images so I was staring at these 500+ images as eensy teensy thumbnails where little could be deciphered without opening the pictures for a better look.

No sweet babies or dear old grannies I’m afraid. I clicked on and quickly closed a couple of the images and based on the background colours of the images viewable from even the thumbnail sized images, I’d guess that the first 30 or 40 images were homemade porn. Yep, you read that right. I started my day yesterday with an unsolicited porn show. There were other, family-rated, pictures on the card, too. This is how my luck often runs. If there’d be 50 memory cards scattered around that parking lot that day and 49 of them had precious baby and old granny pictures on them, I would find THIS one!

Now my predicament is that I’m not sure what to do with this memory card. I could delete its contents and just keep it here for backup, or I could just hold on to it, but even, if by some miracle, I figured out who owned it, it would be very hard to keep a straight face when I handed the card back to them! And, knowing my luck, if I just threw it in the garbage, the bag would split open on the street and one of my neighbours would pick it up and pop it into their computer and wonder why I had THAT card in my garbage!

Backing Up Your Files

So… getting back to the main point I wanted to make.

Whether it’s your manuscript, your pictures or other important files, and whether your files are corrupted, stolen or lost in a Walmart parking lot, it’s probably a good idea to back them up, don’t you think?

Here’s four ways you can back up your digital files:

  1. Put your files on a cloud. The term “cloud” has been around for a while now basically it means online storage that you access through the internet. This article lists 33 free cloud storage options. I use Google Drive and Dropbox. They’re two of the most popular options. If you decide to use cloud storage, check for reviews from other users, and review the terms and conditions for the site to understand your rights and get a feel for how secure your data is.
  2. Copy your files onto CDs, DVDs, Blu rays, memory cards or flash drives.
  3. Buy an external hard drive. External hard drives come in various shapes and sizes, speeds and operating systems. Do your research or ask the questions at the computer store when you purchase one to make sure it is compatible with your machine.
  4. Simply use the Backup/Restore feature if you’re using Windows. While this option isn’t ideal if your computer is stolen, it offers some protection for files that become corrupted.

As an added layer of protection, you might want to store a copy of your backups off site and/or in a fire-proof safe, too, so that in the event of a theft or fire, your data is protected.

Do you have any other suggestions for backing up files? If so, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

7 Tips for Avoiding Computer Viruses and Malware

7 Tips for Avoiding Computer Viruses and Malware offers suggestions to avoid computer viruses, hackers and malware programs.

I was going to write a post tonight about free photo editing software but instead I’m sitting in front of my computer monitoring the progress of Norton Power Eraser.

It seems I may have inadvertently contracted a virus or some malware program while attempting to locate the download site for one of the programs I was going to mention. Don’t misunderstand. The actual program is perfectly safe but it’s late here and I’d much rather be tucked into the comforts of my bed at this hour and in my brain-fried state (it’s been a long day), I clicked on a bad link—or so it seems. (The scan is ongoing.) My anti-virus software suddenly presented me with a rather ominous red warning. All that was missing was a skull and crossbones!

Unfortunately, computer viruses and malware seem to be just a part of modern life, and as a cyber citizen who spends many hours online every day, you do get to experience a few things that you’d prefer not to, or you know of others who’ve been hacked or had some very difficult, even scary, issues that have cost time and/or money to resolve. According to the evening news tonight, “ransomware” is the latest thing to hit the internet. If you’re a fan of “The Good Wife” you may recall a recent episode that dealt with just that.

So, how is one supposed to tiptoe through the internet, exchange emails and files, and not ever “catch” anything?

Well, the first thing, of course, is to use reputable anti-virus software. I use Norton, but there is also McAfee. Microsoft offers free anti-virus software as does AVG.

Anti-virus software is constantly being updated to stay ahead of the viruses and it is important to have anti-virus software for your PC but this cannot always guarantee that you will never pick up a virus along the way. You need to be vigilant.

Here’s some tips about how to avoid acquiring a virus:

  1. Don’t open unexpected email attachments, especially if:
    • You don’t know the sender.
    • The files are executables, i.e. .exe files.
  2. Install operating system and software updates. Many of them contain security updates.
  3. Use a pop-up blocker on your browser. Many viruses and malware programs are transferred via pop-up windows.
  4. Don’t download and install programs from untrustworthy sources.
  5. Don’t click on links in emails if you don’t know what they’re for. Hint: If you run your cursor over a hyperlink without clicking on it you will often see that the actual link destination is very different from the hyperlinked text.
  6. Never reply to emails requesting your personal details unless you`re absolutely certain that the email is legitimate.
  7. And, when some dope calls you out of the blue and says he’s from Microsoft and he’s been told to contact you about your computer problems, laugh and tell him you don’t have a computer and that he must have the wrong number, like I do! These people are just scheming to access your personal details from your computer or trying to scam you for money.

And, last but not least, don’t write blog posts at the stroke of midnight and click on links, like I just did, that you know you shouldn’t be clicking on, when you’re more awake!

The scan is done and all is well. I’m off to bed folks.

Nighty, night…

Photo credit: Pixabay