Any time you work on a computer, it is important to keep extra copies of your files. Usually people call these backup copies. We think it is clearer to call them spare copies.
Why are spare copies important? Many things can go wrong and destroy your work:
- You can erase files by accident.
- Someone else can erase files by accident or deliberately.
- A bug in SooSL or another program can erase or damage your files.
- The electric power can drop or surge. This can damage your files.
- Your hard disk may crash and no longer work. You can lose all the files on the hard disk.
- Malware might erase or encrypt your files.
- Someone might steal your computer.
- A fire or flood might destroy your computer.
How do you protect your files? You make spare copies of them before anything happens.
- Make many copies often.
- How often? Ask yourself: How much work are you willing to lose? If you are willing to lose two weeks of work, then make spare copies every two weeks. Most people don't want to lose more than one day of work. They should make spare copies every day.
- Keep more than one version of the same file. Sometimes, after you make changes to a file, you decide that you don't want those changes. With spare copies, you can then go back to an earlier version. Maybe your file gets damaged, but you don't realize it. You might make a spare copy of the damaged copy without realizing it. You may have to go back to a spare copy you made before the file was damaged.
- Store them in different places.
- Spare copies on your hard disk are convenient. However, if your hard disk crashes or someone steals your computer, those spare copies won't protect you. Both your main copies and the spare copies are gone.
- Spare copies on an external hard disk or USB stick are better. However, if they are in the same room and there is a fire, they won't protect you. Or, if they are in the same computer bag and someone steals the whole bag, they won't protect you.
- Spare copies in cloud storage (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Carbonite) provide the best protection. However, it can be slow to make them and recover them.
- Ideally, make spare copies in all three places.
In short: many spare copies in many places.
You can make spare copies by copying them manually. This is a problem, though: you can forget to do so. You might get tired of making them, and stop doing so. So, it is better to have an automatic backup system. There are lots of systems to choose from. Here are some ideas.
- Windows computers have a system called File History.
- Mac computers have a system called Time Machine.
- A free program called Duplicati works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is designed especially for remote backups (on another device or in cloud storage).
- If you store your files in Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, they will automatically make spare copies in the cloud. However, if you delete your local copies, this will also delete the copies in the cloud. When your local copies change, the cloud copies change too. So, this doesn't provide protection against mistakes
- There are many other good backup programs. Ask a computer expert what they recommend..
For more ideas, do a web search for "Windows backup software" or "Mac backup software" or "Linux backup software".
If you don't know how to set up a backup system, find someone who does know how, who can help you.
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