Quick Tip:
Back Up and Sleep Soundly, Part 1

There's only one 100% safe way to protect your valuable work files from being lost in a hard drive or system crash: Back up your data.

There are two practical approaches to backing up files. The first is to copy your files to an external hard drive connected to your computer. The second is to use an online storage provider.

Today, we'll talk about using an external hard drive. Next issue, we'll delve into Web-mail and online storage providers. We actually recommend that you use both approaches – and you'll understand why after reading both Quick Tips.

The biggest advantage of backing up to an external drive connected to your computer is that you can use software to do it automatically.

The two best-known backup utilities are Data Backup by ProSoft Engineering (for Mac only, around $50) and Retrospect (for both Mac and PC, around $100). Both of these applications work automatically after you set up a schedule. Then, you don't have to do a thing. The software does it all.

The first time you run the software, you specify which folders you want backed up and where you want them saved. The “where” should be to your external drive. After the first save, the “which” should be any files that have changed.

You can purchase a USB or Firewire drive with enough storage capacity (80 to 250 Gigabytes) for between $90 and $160 online.

While it's possible to use CDs for backing up your files, it's slow and inefficient. Soon, you put off doing it … and, eventually, it just stops happening.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: October 6, 2005

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