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:
- 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.
- Copy your files onto CDs, DVDs, Blu rays, memory cards or flash drives.
- 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.
- 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