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How Often Should I Backup My Computer?
Credit: BrainGate 2, www.braingate2.org

How would you feel if suddenly all of your favorite files, pictures, videos and programs were suddenly wiped form your computer? The mere thought can have you racing for the “save” button. But just because you save your documents and files doesn’t mean they’re infallible. A computer meltdown could mean that you’re left without your information if you didn’t back up your data.

Instead of tempting fate by ignoring the backup protocol, it’s a good idea to invest in an external hard drive so you can backup your files regularly or to use a backup service to keep your files safe. That way, if your computer does completely break down, those pictures from your Great Aunt Violet’s 75th birthday party are still safe and sound.

Pictures and videos. When you upload media that is important to you and your family, Microsoft suggests that you backup your copies right away. Among the most irreplaceable files on your computer are those that you upload yourself, like priceless pictures and videos. If you make it a habit to backup media files as soon as you transfer them from your camera or phone to your computer, you’ll have a better chance at salvaging the latest files if your computer completely dies or becomes infected by a virus – totally worth the extra five minutes on the end of your upload time.

Regularly updated files. If you have files on your computer that you update often, like your resume or invoicing that you use for your own business, it’s usually best to set up a reminder on your computer to backup those files every couple of weeks or so. If you’re constantly changing files and always backing them up, you could end with literally hundreds of files to sift through when you need to find old files on an external hard drive or online backup service. Instead, set a reminder on your computer for every two weeks or use a backup service that backs up your files automatically every couple of weeks and you should be fine.

On the fritz. If you sense that your computer is starting to die or become less reliable, definitely back up your files right away. You can usually tell when your computer is becoming less functional; it’s slower, less responsive or crashes often. This is a real sign that you need to move all of the files off of your computer and onto a hard drive or online vault so you’re prepared if your computer dies. It’s a good idea to do this daily, or at least until you can get a newer, more reliable model.