GEEKNOTE: Now that you have that shiny new computer on your desk, what steps do you need to take to protect yourself from disaster? Actually, the answer is fairly simple:
If your computer came without a Windows disk or a recovery disk, the first order of business should be to create a recovery set. This will typically require 1-3 DVDs and the software needed to create the recovery set should already be installed on your computer. The software will walk you through the process step by step.
Make sure you have a copy of all disks needed to reinstall any software on your computer. If you purchase software at a store, set up a place to put all the disks. If you download software, burn a copy of the software to a CD or DVD before you do anything else.
You can manually back up your pictures, documents, etc. by burning them to CDs or DVDs. You can also copy the files to an external hard drive. I do NOT recomment you use flash drives for backups as they are much more prone to becoming unreadable than you might think. I archive my pictures annually to DVDs.
The key is doing regular backups. Most of us tend to forget to do backups until it is too late. If you have a single computer, you should consider one of the online backup services. I recommend F-Secure Online Backup, which is just $49.95 a year and we have it at the store.
If you have multiple computers, you might consider a Windows Home Server or similar NAS box. They typically start at around $400, but can automatically back up as many as 10 computers. The reason I can get away with archiving my pictures online once a year is because I use a Windows Home Server to back up all the computers on my home network.
I don’t recommend using so-called thumb drives or USB memory sticks. They are great for transferring data from one machine to another, but they have a painfully regular habit of dying at the worst possible time.
Burning everything to CD or DVD will work, but you have to remember to do it. I prefer making the process automatic so I don’t forget.
The same thing applies to using an external hard drive. This potentially works great, but you have to remember to back things up and if you trip on the cable, like one of my customers, you potentially lose everything.
Feel free to drop by the store or drop us a note via email if you have any questions.