If you aren’t already backing up your important files, you should be. Whether it be by manually copying files over to multiple hard drives or using a system like Apple’s Time Capsule or Windows Backup and Restore options, it’s very necessary to keep your files in more than one place. Why? Simply put, hard drives break. Sometimes they break for no reason, too. It’s always best to be prepared.
While you should always try to recover your hard drive (at least from a mechanical approach), you must keep your information and media stored elsewhere in case recovering the drive isn’t possible. I recommend backing things up to at least two or three places, but you may be wondering what files you should backup. Fortunately, that’s what this entire article is about – read below for more information.
Your Personal Files
It goes without saying, but you have to back up your personal files. This simple little task can save you a whole mess of heartache in the long-run, my friend. More specifically, take a close look at anything inside your Documents, Pictures, and Videos folders. As a matter of fact, automatically backing up those folders as a whole, rather than being choosy with certain files is a very good idea. Other items to take into consideration are your will and financial records – something that we’ve already spoken about once before on MakeUseOf.
Your desktop is likely home to whatever your currently in-progress projects are, and you definitely don’t want to lose those, right? Automatically backing up your desktop is the best provision of a safety net whenever you’re in your workflow zone. Since this area of your computer usually holds whatever is fresh on your mind, it makes perfect sense to keep it constantly in check. Even more importantly, if you’re a video or photo intensive user, backing up your project folder directories will help you out in the event of something horrible happening. Furthermore, these files are likely only temporary, and they probably won’t find their way into the realm of your personal belongings.
Your App Settings
If you’ve customized all of your apps and programs to your liking, it would definitely take a great deal of time to redo everything if your hard drive were to ever crash. Regardless of whether you are using a Mac or a PC, it’s possible to find your app settings in either the Application Support or App Data areas of your machine. Whenever you load things back up on your new hard drive (or new computer – eek), things should feel as though you are right at home. Granted, you might still have to do some manual adjustments, but this will make things much easier.
Your Browser Data
I have a slew of bookmarks stowed away on my browser that link to cool locations for shooting videos, awesome tech tips, and handy web apps. Sometimes I even forget about all the resources that I’ve saved! Backup your browser’s bookmarks and favorites to keep track of your most important wells of information. Furthermore, you probably have quite a few extensions and other browser settings you wouldn’t want to manually install once more.
Fortunately, apps like Hekasoft Backup and Restore for Windows can do most of this for you. If you’re a Mac user, you might have a bit more trouble. However, Chrome can automatically sync all of your information across multiple devices. Likewise, Firefox can sync your bookmarks and other information.
It seems as though I change my personal email address at least fifty times a year, so going back and reading old messages is always a hassle for me. Even if you aren’t worried about a hard drive failure (you really should be) it’s a good idea to keep a backup of all your emails for your personal records. If you’re an Outlook or Apple Mail user, it’s quite easy to make a simple archive using both app’s export mailbox functions.
For alternative methods, you can take a look at 5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data or 5 Ways to Backup your Email. Some people are even of the opinion that you should stay away from desktop mail clients and use web-based ones exclusively.
Your Saved Games
Although not nearly as important as the above files, no one knows the suffering of a lost file like a gamer. With that in mind, keep your saved files backed up! Don’t rely on one hard drive for everything. Consider a game like Fallout 3. That game contains a huge world with a variety of weapons, enemies, and characters packed inside. The worst part is that it requires quite a bit of in-game walking. If you lost a save file that gave you access to the best weapons and fast travel… Oh dear, I can’t even imagine the pain.
Out of all the vital files displayed here, I have to say that your personal ones are the most important. They are also the easiest to backup if you make use of the proper folders. With that said, backing files up will take a bit of organization on your part. Rather than haphazardly tossing files wherever you seem to have space, be intentional about where you place them. Doing this can contribute to a fluid, automated system that could be beneficial later on.
What are your most vital files you should backup? Do you have any to add to this list?