Back up your files before you regret it

Your computer is bogged down, and there are things on it you can’t afford to lose

I am so bad about backing up my computer. I have a flash drive where I keep pictures and another I use for important files for school, but by no means do these two flash drives hold everything I have on my computer. I have enough photos to fill three photo albums and enough half-baked attempts at novels to fill a library. With all this stuff, you would think every once in a while I would back up my files, especially my photos, but I never do, and it is a terrible habit.

I am terrified of my computer suddenly crashing even as I am typing this column, I can imagine my computer suddenly emitting sparks and the screen going black and pixelated. My computer is old, needless to say, and the amount of stuff I have on it probably does not help, but I have two problems. My first problem is I have convinced myself that everything on my computer is valuable to me, even the three-page chapter of a novel I tried to write three summers ago. My second problem is that I get too distracted while trying to sort through my files to actually find the ones that are important. Wedged between all the pictures of my little sister and my dog, are pictures of flowers I thought were pretty and buildings I thought were interesting. All those pictures that don’t mean anything now, have left me muddling through my computer, trying to find the files worth keeping, and the ones that are just lugging my hard drive down.

Going through your computer every once in a while is a good idea, it allows you to start fresh with an organized computer, labeled folders, and a system that all around makes your life easier. After your computer is organized, the second goal is backing up your most important files. Backing up your photos and files on a flash drive or external hard drive allows you to breathe easier when your computer gets older or when you accidentally send a folder to the recycling bin.

Now that we are nearing the end of the semester, you probably have a lot more important documents on your computer. Files for final projects and final papers are probably collecting on your hard drive, and those are things you do not want to lose. The 10-page research paper you have been working on for two weeks, or two hours, will not be such an accomplishment if your computer crashes at the last minute or you accidently delete it. A catastrophe like this can be avoided if you copy your files to a flash drive or, at least, save your files in two places. A great way to make your files virtually impossible from being lost is saving them in a cloud like Google Docs. Saving your files in a cloud gives you a way not only to backup your files in a reliable place, but it also makes your files portable and accessible on any computer. Google Docs even has an app, so you can access your documents on your smartphone.

For right now, I am just going to concentrate on backing up my final projects in two places, but later this summer I am going to try to clean up my entire computer. And if your computer is like mine, I would highly suggest doing the same thing…that way you can put more stuff on it next semester!

Amanda Gibson can be contacted at [email protected].