Friday, March 28, 2014

XP Users: Backup all of your data

For most of us this is the most important step. I have been backing up my data for years.

I am talking about:

all of my documents, like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, any other text documents, in my case I include my web sites in this (the local copy of what is out there on the web), etc. These include everything you'd expect to find like tax forms, wills, PC Doc class handouts, letters I have written over the years. etc. Even I am amazed when I see that this folder, containing many, many other folders, numbers over 58,000 files.

all of my pictures. I am talking digital photographs. I am talking about the 46000 +/- digital photos I have taken since 2001 when I got my first digital camera. Also included are many old photos I have scanned and converted into digital files.

all of my videos. I don't remember when I bought my Flip Video Recorder. but as I look at the My Videos directory I see I have videos in the Flip folder dating back to 2005, so I am working on year 10 of these. I also see many other videos. Some are YouTube downloads, others make up the old Super 8 videos my son had converted to digital videos, some videos taken by my family which were given to me, and more than a handful of miscellaneous videos saved from various sources over the years. There are roughly 1400 of these (quite large) files.

all of my music. I have over 3000 individual songs (files) in several categories (folders) like Christmas, Kids, my old favorites, Patriotic, etc.

If you are fortunate enough to have organized your files on your PC, as I have over the years, the rest is pretty easy. I realize, for most of you, you will have some preliminary steps to get through this. Start by moving files into the proper one of the 4 folders named above (Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Music).

When ready to back up your files, right click once on the Start button (lower left), and select Explore from the resulting pop-up menu. You should have an idea of how much data you need to backup. I am talking about how many gigabytes (Billions of characters).

Doing what I just laid out, I see this window:

Above you can see the data folders we are talking about - the four of them.

Next, determine how much data you want to back up. To see the size of your aggregated data, right click once on the upper (there are 2) folder named My Documents. Select Properties from the drop down menu. You will then see a window that looks like this:

On this new window note that I have selected the General tab at the top of the Properties window. For me, then, I see that I have a total of 114 GB that includes almost 108,000 files.

I do not expect most of you will have nearly this many, but you need to find out how much data you have on your PC and you MUST have an ironclad plan to back up all of this data before April 8!

The next step is to determine onto what device you will back up your data.

Do not, under this April 8 circumstance think of simply making a duplicate copy on your hard drive! Think in terms of your whole PC being destroyed. Think about backing up your data to an external device, one which can be easily removed and stored (off site - out of the house is best).

Three types of storage media come to mind.

1) A thumb, aka flash, drive

2) A portable external hard drive. These are small, attach via a USB connection, and are pretty affordable these days.

 3) A back up service in "the Cloud", meaning you store your data at a servicer's location. There are many of these in the business. I do this and I use SOS Online Backup, I am very happy with SOS. I am so comfortable with them that I now just run my backups once a week. I can view my data at any time, and I can restore a file at will - easily. I really love SOS. Find a company you are comfortable with if you want to back up your data in the cloud. It is very reassuring doing this.

However, you may choose to use a thmb drive. Just make sure you buy one that is big enough to hold all of your data.

A Micro Center 64GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive can be bought today for $25.99! (I am amazed at this low price). They make quality stuff and you can buy it online from your easy chair at

If you need larger, I have seen 128 GB flash drives advertised too! Simply amazing. That would handle my 118 GB easily.

However, if you decide to go to a flash drive I would urge you to buy 2! Use one for your first backup, and then a week or several weeks later use the second one for your second backup. Always sight verify the backed up results and be sure you can easily restore a file from the flash drive.

Or, you may choose to use an external portable hard drive.

These are priced all over the board. Here is one that seems to be mid-priced, but shop around and ask questions: Matsunichi Inc. 500 GB Portable SuperSpeed USB 3.0 External Hard Drive. The writeup says it also supports USB 2.0.

If you use a flash drive or a portable hard drive, get the device out of the house after you are satisfied that you have backed up everything you intended to back up!