Suite Minute - An Award-Winning Technology Blog by Peggy Duncan

June 3rd, 2007

Which Files Should You Back Up?

Data Backup, Filing, Outlook, by Peggy Duncan.

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 Settings\Peggy Duncan\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook). You’ll want to back up the Outlook.pst file.) 

UPDATE 1/22/2012: In Windows 7, the path is  C:\Users\YourComputerName\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.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 Settings\yourname\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures (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 Settings\Peggy Duncan\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates). 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:\Users\YourComputerName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Templates\ 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

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  • http://www.laptopreviews2u.com Suns

    Thanks for the very fast reply! I'm using labels so I can find whatever I need quite fast. Still, folders are a much better idea.

  • mfarney

    Hello Peggy! Thanks for the very fast reply! I'm using labels so I can find whatever I need quite fast. Still, folders are a much better idea. I'm not a big Outlook fan although I see more and more people using it. I'll give it a try myself.

  • mfarney

    Hello Peggy! Thanks for the very fast reply! I'm using labels so I can find whatever I need quite fast. Still, folders are a much better idea. I'm not a big Outlook fan although I see more and more people using it. I'll give it a try myself.

  • peggyduncan

    Hi Mathew, I sure hope you're not keeping those messages in your Inbox but rather in folders. I use Outlook and like to keep my messages to one screen so I'm assured that nothing is falling through the cracks. And keeping old messages in front of you keeps you confused and overloaded. I drag messages to my calendar or tasks. I flag for followup and hide until it's time to deal with it. I save outside of Outlook if I need to. I insert the message into my calendar, a tasks, or a contact then delete from my Inbox. My laptop goes everywhere I go so I have no access issues, and I have everything I need to send prompt answers.

  • mfarney

    When it comes to backing up our data, one very accessible and free tool is our emails. Gmail offers quite a large inbox so I keep all my documents there. I can access them whenever I want from whatever computer I fnd myself using.
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    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting