Backing Up Your Digital Life

Published Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:34 AM

"You don't understand. My life is on this computer!"

What's Your Back-up Plan?

This despair-driven exclamation is one that data recovery experts hear all the time. It is also one that most of us can relate to (with a wince) because we store a tremendous amount of data on our computers - from contacts, calendars and documents to photos, videos and music. When that data is lost or corrupted due to defective components, theft, virus intrusion, exposure to the elements or the shock of a drop, we feel lost, too.

As in many arenas, the best defense against data loss is a good offense. We need to get into the good habit of backing up our digital life. Here is a collection of data backup resources to ease your way:

A fine place to start is this post from PCWorld answering the question What's the Best Way to Back Up What I Need to Back Up?  It cites these candidates for daily Windows XP backup:

  • My Documents
  • Desktop
  • Application Data
  • Favorites
  • Local Settings\Application Data

And these for Vista:

  • Documents
  • Pictures
  • Desktop
  • Music
  • Contacts
  • Videos
  • AppData
  • Favorites

It also goes on to state the general rule that your backup should be physically separate from your computer, since any backup that can be stolen or "destroyed along with the rest of the computer is not a secure backup."

To heed this rule, you can choose from these popular options:

  • External hard drives
  • Online backup services
  • USB flash drives
  • Some combination of the above

For guidance on choosing an external hard drive, you can tap these resources:

You can gain insight into your online data storage options via:

The latest on USB flash drives appears in:

A good computer backup plan is no longer optional. We would like to hear from you. Leave a comment here or on our Facebook or Twitter pages sharing how you back up your digital life.

by Bradley Eggers


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This is getting a bit more sctjeubive, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like  Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of  neighbors  will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune  Social  is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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