Which Files Should You Back Up?

If anything ever happens and I have to recover data saved on my computer, I want it to be as painless as possible. That’s why I paid attention to which files I should protect and how.

A backup is not a backup if it’s not off site. To simplify offsite/online storage, I use MozyPro. This technology backs up designated files to an online vault every day as they change on my computer. MozyPro. proved to be the best service for me because it keeps my files organized the way I have them on my computer (this is a biggie for me). My external hard drive also provides automatic backups (it’s also backed up by MozyPro). And I have critical files saved on a 4GB thumb drive for easy access when I’m offline and traveling. In addition to having the means to back up your data, you should also have a plan for knowing what to back up.

UPDATE 1/22/2012: I’ve switched to Carbonite. I wanted to start fresh, but both services are great. 

My Documents Folder: My two main business folders are separated into broad categories, then into smaller subcategories. If you keep like subjects together, it’s easier to back up everything (and to find anything I need later).

Outlook Files: You can back up Outlook to include your contacts, emails, calendar, tasks, and journal entries. (See my post on backing up Outlook. The path to my Outlook files is at C:Documents and SettingsPeggy DuncanLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlook). You’ll want to back up the Outlook.pst file.) 

UPDATE 1/22/2012: In Windows 7, the path is  C:UsersYourComputerNameAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst (replace YourComputerName with your own).

You’ll probably also want to back up your signature files and rules if you’ve set them up. The path to the Signatures folder is C:Documents and SettingsyournameApplication DataMicrosoftSignatures (MozyPro keeps this folder backed up for me).

And if you’ve created any rules, you’ll want to back them up too (see my post on backing up Outlook. To find out where your templates are stored, in Word, click the Tools menu, Options, File Locations tab. Double-click the location that reads User Templates.

Templates: If you create any templates (with the .dot, .xlt, .ppt extensions), they’re automatically saved outside of the My Documents structure (mine are at C:Documents and SettingsPeggy DuncanApplication DataMicrosoftTemplates). I added this location to my Favorites so it would be easy to remember.

UPDATE: In Windows 7, it’s difficult if not impossible to find the Templates folder. Let the system find it for you. Hold down the Windows key (the one with the Windows logo left of the spacebar) and type R. The Run command box will appear. Paste this in that box, C:UsersYourComputerNameAppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplatesTemplates replacing YourComputerName with your own, and click OK.

Downloaded Programs: These are miscellaneous applications I’ve either purchased or downloaded for free. I don’t have the CD. Instead of saving these in the same folder as the Programs folder, I put them in a separate folder called My Downloaded Programs. If I have to restore my computer files, I won’t have to remember which applications I downloaded.

My Books: These are all the files I have for all the books I’ve written. I keep these outside of my main business files folder and off my computer because the files are so large.

QuickBooks: In addition to being backed up on my external hard drive and online vault every day, I back QuickBooks files up on my hard drive every time I make changes (QuickBooks has this feature built in. Every time it asks you if you want to back up, click YES! I name the file the same each time so it also gets backed up online).

Favorites. I’ve bookmarked some great sites and don’t want to lose the easy access. To find where your Favorites are stored, double-click My Computer, double-click the C: Drive, double-click Documents and Settings, double-click on your username folder. You should see your Favorites folder.

Pictures. Pictures I use on my Website are safe on the Web server. All others are saved in the My Pictures folder.

Special Projects. I’m working on my family tree with the software Family Tree Maker.

In addition to being backed up on my external hard drive and online vault every day, I also saved them to a flash drive that I keep with me.

I must admit that I’m somewhat anal about backing up my data. My computer is my livelihood, and I don’t want to lose over 10 years worth of business. Plus, I cannot tell you how much better I sleep at night because I’ve taken the time to put this plan in place.

Simplify your life, and make data recovery one less thing you have to worry about. If you don’t think you have time to deal with this now, how will you find time to recover later?

P.S. Learn how to organize your files in my eBook, Get Organized So You Can Think! Word templates that I created that will make this easy and also a File Index to get you started are attached.

Related Posts
Use Technology to Protect Your Small Business from Disaster
My Laptop Crashed but I Didn’t Panic
September is National Preparedness Month
Back Up All of Outlook Pleeaaze!

Peggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert

Back Up All of Outlook PLEEAAZE!

Too many disasters happening. You’re not protecting yourself. Save your data! Here is how to back up Outlook messages, contacts, appointments, tasks, notes, and journal entries (all saved in the .pst file). I’m using Outlook 2003.

  1. Get an external storage device ready to store a large file (flash drive, CD, etc.). The file will be huge (mine is over 175MB). Flash drive is better because if you burn to a CD, the file will become Read Only. To use it, you’ll have to right-click on it, click Properties, and untick Read-only.
  2. In Outlook, click the Tools menu, Options.
  3. Click the Mail Setup tab, Data Files button.
  4. Click Personal Folders, Open Folder button.
  5. Close Outlook.
  6. Right-click the Outlook.pst file, Send To, choose drive you set up in Step 1. (If you get an error message about another process having Outlook locked, shut down other applications such as MSN Desktop Search, Yahoo! or Google Desktop Search, etc. You should also uncradle your PDA and disable all Outlook add-ins. If this doesn’t work, this article offers other solutions http://www.howto-outlook.com/faq/outlookdoesntclose.htm)
  7. Now repeat the process for the Archive.pst and save it.
  8. Save this file location to your Favorites.
  9. Add this file location to any automatic backup process you’ve set up (e.g., MozyPro, external hard drive, etc.).
  10. Enjoy more peace of mind.

Back Up Outlook Signature Files. You will probably also want to back up your signature files and rules if you’ve set them up.

The path to the Signatures folder is C:Documents and SettingsyournameApplication DataMicrosoftSignatures (MozyPro keeps this folder backed up for me).

And if you’ve created any rules, you’ll want to back them up too. The only way I’ve found to do this is to export them to another file location.

  1. From the Inbox, click the Tools menu, Rules and Alerts, Email Rules tab, Options button.
  2. Export Rules and save.

Restore Outlook Using the Backup. Copy the backup file to the same folder as above. But, if you need to keep data you’ve added since the backup:

  1. Click the File menu, Import and Export, Import from another program or file, Next, Personal Folder File (.pst), Next.
  2. Browse to find the backup file you created, and choose the option Replace duplicates…).

Related Post
Which Files Should You Back Up?

Business Cards Piling Up? Dump 'em

I have a business card scanner…saw it years ago and just had to have it (CardScan)! It’s probably about 90% accurate reading the text on the card and turning it into a contact so I can’t complain. The problem is that after that first wave of cards was scanned, I don’t use the scanner anymore.

Here’s why:

  1. I don’t blindly collect business cards when I’m out “networking.” If someone thrusts a card in my hand, I’ll take it to be courteous (although they weren’t). But when I get to my office (or when I pass a trash can) and know I have no connection with the person and have no intention of contacting them, I trash the card immediately (especially if it’s printed on cheap paper with a perforated edge and no rhyme or reason to the design).Most of the cards piled up around you amount to keeping junk, clutter, a mess. Businesses have failed, people have changed jobs, etc. Why keep junk?
  2. When I’m out and get a card I want to keep, I’ll write something about the person on it so I’ll remember. Then I add them to Outlook Contacts manually. I add a Category and I add my notes in the text area. I do this immediately so they won’t pile up. Then I trash the card.
  3. Most of the addresses I add to Outlook come from within an email message or on a Webpage. I have some great software that allows me to select text, press a hotkey (for me F9), and populate fields in Outlook automatically. It’s magical! If you can’t download software at work, do it at home. Copy 2 Contact today! It’s inexpensive and worth every penny.
  4. When someone indicates they want to stay in touch with me (and the feeling is mutual), I’ll email them my vCard from Outlook.

If you work in a group environment, the scanner would help because you can set it up on one machine and take turns using it. Or check into a network version. Otherwise, think twice before you buy.

Get to a Folder Quickly When you Want to Open It

I’ve set up various ways to quickly get to documents I work with a lot. One way is by adding folders to the Places bar (it’s the bar on the left of this dialog box (under Look in:) that appears when you click the Open toolbar button (or click Ctrl+O) inside your favorite software.

It’s easy to add more folders to this bar.

  1. Open Word XP or higher (or other Office software).
  2. Click the File menu, Open (or click Ctrl+O, or click the Open toolbar button). Browse to the folder you want added to the Places Bar, and select it.
  3. With the desired folder selected, click the Tools menu, Add to “My Places”. The folder you selected will appear in the Places menu (you might have to click the drop-down arrow to see it).
  4. Reorder the folder placement by right-clicking it and clicking Move Up until you get it to the desired position.
  5. Later, to remove a place, go back to where you started (e.g., if you were in Word when you created the folder, go back to Word), and press Ctrl+O to access the Open dialog box. Then right-click the folder and click Remove. If Remove is grayed out, you didn’t go back to where you started.

Clearing Unwanted Email Addresses That Pop Up on the To, Cc, Bcc Lines

Last Thursday in Atlanta, I presented one of my popular seminars, Conquer Email Overload and Manage Your Time with Outlook. The conference was produced by the Georgia chapter of Meeting Professionals International. Great group of people who were eager to learn. Ding, Ding!

I demo’d the tip that has frustrated a lot of users. It’s those pesky email addresses that pop up once Outlook recognizes a few of the letters you type. Outlook maintains a nickname list that’s used by both the automatic name checking and the automatic completion features. Outlook has gathered these addresses as you’ve worked, but a lot of times, you don’t remember who the people are. Or perhaps they left the company a long time ago, and you’d never have a reason to email them.

Use Keyboard Arrow Keys to Clear Cache
When the unwanted email address pops up, use your keyboard’s down or up arrow to select it. Then hit the Delete key to erase the name from the cache (this doesn’t erase the name from your address book).

If That Doesn’t Work, Try This
Using the keyboard arrow keys and deleting won’t work if the cache has become corrupt. In that case, this might work for you. It will wipe out the cache so you can start fresh.

  1. Close Outlook, then click Start, Search.
  2. In the box under, All or part of the file name, type .NK2.
  3. In the Look In box, choose your local hard disk.
  4. Click More advanced options.
  5. In the resulting list, choose All files or folders, and tick Search hidden files and folders.
  6. Click Search. When the .NK2 file is located, right-click on it, click Rename.
  7. Rename the file to profilename.bak, and press Enter.
  8. Close Windows Explore and restart Outlook so a new nickname cache can be generated.

Don’t let technology frustrate you. Whatever problem you’re having can usually be solved by doing a little research. Or perhaps you’ll want to enroll in one of my training sessions either in person or on the Web. See my Website for details and dates.

Use Technology to Protect Your Small Business from Disaster

I’m a solopreneur and wouldn’t want it any other way. I love the flexibility I have and the fact that I can go hang out with my mom in DC anytime I want and not have to worry about what’s going on back in the office.

I had to think about safeguards I needed in place so I could recover from most any disaster, especially since I travel with my laptop (which is also my office). (According to government statistics, 93 percent of companies that had trouble restoring their data after a data disaster are out of business within 18 months. A solo or microenterprise could be out of business that day!)

I have peace of mind because I have taken precautions to protect my little enterprise in case of a disaster. What have you done?

  • I’m organized and you should stop and take time to do it too. If you can’t find something now, you definitely won’t be able to find it in an emergency. All files everywhere should be stored using a logical system that anyone can follow. Don’t just save files: organize everything and make the system make sense. And don’t store junk that should be deleted! To organize any files, start out with broad categories such as Accounting, Administrative, Marketing, and break them down into subcategories. Then break down the subcategories into the next broadest and so on…always keeping like subjects together. (For more help getting organized, visit my Website.)
  • All of my crucial files are automatically backed up to an online vault every day as they change. I’m using MozyPro.com to back up my laptop and external hard drive. I especially like that they have 24/7 support and they keep my files organized exactly as I have them.I’ve also developed a system that outlines which files to back up, when to do it, and where the files are stored. If I ever need to recover data, I want it to be as painless as possible. By having a logical system, I’ll be able to do it with a lot less stress. (See my post on exactly what I back up.)
  • An external hard drive in my office automatically backs up selected files several times a day (files from the My Documents folder and QuickBooks are most important).
  • My Website server is a repository for files meeting planners might need to download if they can’t get to me.
  • Crucial files are also stored on my 4GB flash drive that I always have with me.
  • Processes and procedures for running my solo enterprise are documented in a binder and also stored online.
  • All of my contacts and client files are stored in my computer (and also stored online). And everything is filed logically so anyone can find it in a hurry.
  • Computer-Internet-banking-related passwords are saved in a special file on my computer. For extra security, I listed just enough of the password for me to know which one I used…the rest of which I have memorized.
  • Precious files such as my passport, car title, copies of credit cards and driver’s license, etc., are stored in my office in a fireproof safe that’s small enough to grab and carry.
  • Business insurance covers all equipment at full replacement value. (Take digital pictures of everything, and save them on a CD, Flash Drive, etc. Keep the storage medium inside a fireproof safe that’s specifically designed for media contents. Explore your options from vendors such as Schwab Corporation.)

For more guidelines on preparing a disaster strategy for your business, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s disaster preparedness Website at Ready.gov. You should also visit the Red Cross disaster recovery page.

Now is a good time to get quiet and think about how your business would survive a catastrophe. Don’t procrastinate about setting something up any longer. You never know…

P.S. You can learn how to organize your files with my eBook, Get Organized So You Can Think! Word documents that I created that will make this easy and also a File Index to get you started are attached.


Save PowerPoint Slide as a High Resolution Picture

By default, PowerPoint will output a jpeg at 96dpi (click the File menu, Save As, and choose jpeg as the type). This is fine for the Web, but not for printing. In most cases, you’ll need at least 300dpi.

To create high resolution jpgs, you have two choices…fiddle with the registry and change it, or invest in some very inexpensive software that will do this for you. To complete a recent project, I chose the latter (I highly suggest you do the same).

The ImageExport on the PPTools Website is a fast, easy way to export graphics from PowerPoint as a GIF, JPG, PNG, or WMF at various resolutions. It’s $29.95, and you can try it for free.

For more tips in PowerPoint, buy my book, Just Show Me Which Button to Click! in PowerPoint 2007 and another one on PowerPoint 2003 or enroll in one of my PowerPoint workshops.

UPDATE: I’ve recorded three videos to show you how to use ImageExport.



Sending attachments when you mail merge in Outlook

In my Computer Magic! seminar at the Affordable Meetings conference, several attendees wanted to know how to send an attachment when they send a mail merge email.

The bad news is that you can’t with the native Outlook program.

But, the good news is that you can purchase an inexpensive add-in ($24.00) that will make this easy (if you’re on a company network, check with your IT administrator before you attempt to download anything to your work computer).


Somewhere along the way as you start the merge, you may get a message about a program trying to send email on your behalf…You can avoid this happening by downloading the “Express ClickYes” utility that is available as a free download from http://www.contextmagic.com/express-clickyes/

“Express ClickYes is a tiny program that sits in the taskbar and clicks the Yes button on behalf of you, when Outlook’s Security Guard opens a prompt dialog saying that a program is trying to send an email with Outlook or access its address book. You can suspend/resume it by double-clicking its taskbar icon.”

Creating and Editing a Movie Can Be Easy

Last summer, I was a speaker at the Phenomenal Women Speak conference in the US Virgin Islands. It was part of a PBS special for the island’s affiliate. They sent me a copy of the DVD. My plan is to pull 8-10 minutes from this and create a video for speaker bureaus.

(I know you’re thinking that I should be paying someone to do this for me, but I’m a computer nut, and instead of watching TV or going shopping, I learn stuff on my computer. I get caught up in it, and hours go by with friends and family having to remind me to eat.)

Unfortunately, the DVD was in the .vob format, and none of the software I used to convert it worked. I went to my favorite Website and looked for software that could do it (www.snapfiles.com). They test software, evaluate it, and put it on their site for you to download. Some of it’s free, some not. I’ve always found exactly what I needed.

I tried various software, but nothing was giving me the quality I needed. The free software converted it, but the quality was bad (it might be that the video is an hour long). Another software converted it, but my mouth movement wasn’t keeping up with the sound.

Finally, I found what I needed. The Movavi Video Converter converted the file and kept the quality.

To create the movie, I thought I’d be able to use Microsoft’s free Movie Maker. But every time I added my video, the software crashed. I tried different scenarios to fix the problem (checking codecs) but nothing worked.

I was wasting time, so I went back to Camtasia to pull segments from the full video, add graphics, photos, music, etc. It’s by www.techsmith.com, and is probably the best software in the world for this type of project (for regular people like us). The company uses its own technology to create tutorials that are free on their Website so you’ll have no problem learning how to use it.

When I finish the project, I’ll burn the DVDs and use my artwork I talked about in a previous post to create the finished product. I’ll create a link later so you can see it. Stay tuned…

I’ve done this before and have a video segment for a time management seminar I gave for small business owners. Click the link to view.


Create Interesting Art Projects with PowerPoint

I just finished an interesting project using PowerPoint. In an earlier post, I talked about how to save PowerPoint slides as pictures. I do this a lot when I create the photo gallery for my Website. And I’m finding other uses for this tip.

I’m creating a DVD using some great video footage from a PBS special I did for the US Virgin Islands affiliate. I edited the video using Camtasia and put a 6-minute video sample together (see SUITETV tab above).

The only thing left to do was to create the DVD jacket covers and disc label.

I could have gotten a designer here in Atlanta to do this and pay hundreds of dollars. Or I could have bid this out on Elance.com and gotten someone in China or somewhere to do it cheaper. But I wanted to give it a try…mainly because I’m a computer nut and love creating in PowerPoint (I teach PowerPoint and have written a book about it…see links below). And also because I knew I could do it as long as I kept everything simple and clean. So I turned off the TV and went to work.

Here’s what I did.

I created a disc cover and DVD jacket (front, back) in PowerPoint. I measured a DVD jacket from one I’d purchased and resized a PowerPoint slide to the same dimensions. In a separate file, I resized another slide to fit the back cover dimensions (that also included the spine). Then I went to work on the design.

Once I designed the jacket cover, I saved it as a high resolution jpeg right from PowerPoint.

By default, PowerPoint will output a jpeg at 96dpi. This is fine for the Web, but not for printing…you need at least 300dpi. I had two choices…fiddle with the registry and change it, or invest in some very inexpensive software that would do this for me. I chose the latter (I highly suggest you do the same). The ImageExport is a fast, easy way to export graphics from PowerPoint as a GIF, JPG, PNG, or WMF at various resolutions. It’s $29.95, and you can try it for free. Saving the file in the PNG format is giving me the best quality.

Then I went to work on the DVD label, using the same design (the picture above). I used a free Word template designed specifically to fit DVD/CD labels at NEATO. I had to tweak the PowerPoint design until I had a perfect fit, but this was quick. Next, I saved this slide as a high resolution jpg. Then in Word, I inserted my PowerPoint jpg as a fill effect/picture inside the drawing object on the NEATO template.

I saved both of these documents on a Flash Drive (I saved the DVD label as a PDF) so I can use a friend’s high resolution color laser printer for the best quality (or you could use Kinko’s, Office Depot, Staples, etc.). The disc cover will print directly on NEATO CD/DVD labels, 2up (two per page). I’ll print the jackets using high quality photo paper.

I’m very pleased with the results (click here to see the rest of it), and I learned some new things along the way. If you want to learn how to do projects like this, sign up for my class “Create Marketing Collateral with PowerPoint.” Or buy my book, Just Show Me Which Button to Click! in PowerPoint 2003 (Update: 2007 version now available).

Let me know what you think.

P.S. I need to add that the only stumbling block in all of this was removing the white box behind my photo when I inserted it into PowerPoint. I used the transparency tool on the PowerPoint Picture toolbar, and it was almost perfect. Almost isn’t good enough for me.

I had to go to PhotoShop Elements and learn how to get rid of the background. I’ve paid people in the past when I’ve needed this done, but I was determined to learn how to do it myself. I went to Help, and could have kicked myself once I saw how easy it was to do this…took me 2 minutes!, if that long. Now I know.

I use two monitors so after I finished in PhotoShop, I dragged the picture over to the slide in PowerPoint. This time when I used the transparency tool, I was more pleased with the finish.


Peggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert