Back It Up or Risk Losing It Forever

box with question mark“Strategy is about choice, which affects outcomes,” according to Wikipedia. Digital Survival for Everyone™ is all about ongoing action plans to help you achieve your goals. Your plans should make the challenge of Success in a Digital World™ easier to understand and achieve.

In my last post, I suggested that you map out your own needs and goals to move you along in taking charge of your computer. Because most people learn computers on an ad hoc basis, bits here and there related to a specific task, right from the start you are likely to have more knowledge in some areas than others.

If you are going to put in the effort to execute your plan, then keeping your goals right in front of you is an excellent way to stay motivated while you execute your strategy.

The 6 areas of knowledge essential for digital survival are:

Any strategy that you develop to take charge of your computer will need to include all of these components—you will need knowledge in all of these areas as you use computers and the web.

At Chaos To Clarity, we believe that there are useful ways to think about getting started on your mission. In this post I will start by giving you some perspective on the first crucial area of knowledge, data backup.

First things first, back up your data. Backup your files. Data=Files=Information. Backup anything you care about frequently and often. Before you make any changes to your computer you should always make a copy of your data. If anything goes wrong you won’t have to panic because your all-important data: emails, documents, photos, music, files, and whatever else will not be affected. Every single time you do more work than you want to lose, backup your files.

If you need a visual, whether or not you liked Sex in the City, you can watch Carrie lose her mind when she didn’t have a backup on YouTube.

Whether you are on a Mac or a Windows machine, it is vital to regularly make a copy of your files and keep it somewhere away from your computer. On a DVD, flash drive, or an external hard drive—whatever works for you. Something is better than nothing. If you don’t care about your information, don’t worry about making a copy.

If you don’t know what to do or how the process works, don’t get discouraged. Take charge! Start by looking in the help section of your operating system. You may find tutorials, or you may find step by step directions. You can look under “backup” but you can also look under “copy files” since that is essentially what you are doing—copying your files from wherever you usually keep them to another location.

One last note, be sure you know where programs keep your files, the “default” location. It is not always logical. If you explore the “preferences” or “settings” of a program you will usually discover where data files are kept. If the program is set up to put files you create with that particular program somewhere odd—not where you put the rest of your files—change the location. For example, historically Microsoft® email programs have not kept your email in the “My Documents” folder where your documents, spreadsheets, etc. go by default. You actually have to change the email program settings if you want your email to be saved in the “My Documents” folder. Why bother? Because then you only have to worry about making a copy of the files in one main place, the “My Documents” folder. A little effort upfront to consolidate your data will greatly improve the odds that you back it up properly.

Make time to learn the basics, so you can get what you want and need from computers and the Internet. Focus on your goals if you start to lose motivation or imagine it is all too much effort. We all need survival strategies to get through life. In a digital world our circumstances change and we need different strategies and skills—still based on common sense and still very necessary.

Join me on Wednesday to continue with an equally important survival strategy—preserving your security and privacy.

If you want to know more about backup solutions, you can also check out Rob Pegoraro, Technology columnist for the Washington Post, who addressed the topic of automated backup on 10/30/08 in his column Fast Forward, and his blog Faster Forward.