If you do not have a backup copy of your computer files and pictures, you are at risk of losing them all. It is heartbreaking when a computer client loses their personal files because they do not have a backup copy.

Why back up?

Your files, stored on your computer’s hard drive, are unique and precious to you. Hard drives have a lifespan of 3-7 years before they crash from shock or power surges. When they crash, computers do not start up. Sometimes your files and pictures can be retrieved from a crashed hard drive, but there is no guarantee.

Backing up your files, either periodically or continuously, provides an external copy of your files as of the date of the backup. This backup copy can be used to recover your files on a new or rebuilt computer.

NOTE: Some computer services offer “views” of your data that reside on servers elsewhere, such as e-mail, Facebook, banking information, movies and music. The data is not on your computer.

Backup fundamentals – the 3-2-1 Rule

The 3-2-1 Rule is a way to secure your personal files from loss.

• 3 – keep 3 copies

• 2 – keep in 2 locations (in case the hard drive crashes)

• 1 – keep 1 copy off-site (in case of fire or flood)


Principles of back up: 3-2-1 = 3 copies -2 locations -1 off-site

Copy 1 – these are the files on your hard drive. A copy can be synced (duplicated) to the Microsoft One Drive.

Copy 2 – could be manually copied to an external hard drive periodically. Any files and pictures added or modified since the last backup may be lost because they are not on the backup. Put a manual backup in your schedule once a month!

Copy 3 – could be automatically copied to a backup service, such as Carbonite. All added and modified files and pictures are in the backup.


The cost of backing up.

• An external hard drive can cost between $20 and $120 depending on how much storage space it has. Choose a USB 3.0 device which has a faster transfer rate.

• A backup service like Carbonite costs about $7 a month

• Extra Microsoft One Drive space can be purchased for $2 a month The cost of not backing up. The cost of not backing up is the potential loss of all your personal files and pictures.


Where are Your Files Stored?

Your personal files (photos, PDFs, and attachments in emails, documents and spreadsheets) reside on your computer hard drive, in “library folders”: downloads, documents, pictures, music, and videos. Right clicking on each library and selecting “properties” shows how much storage is needed for each library folder (add together to determine the amount of backup storage you need).


Periodic Manual Backup

You may chose to manually copy your files periodically to an external hard drive. These connect to your computer using a USB port, can hold between 8GB and 2000 GB of data, and cost between $6 and $120. Safely remove the device when the backup completes, put it in a safe place and remember to backup again at a later date.

Procedure to manually back up your files?


2. Plug your USB storage device into a USB port on your computer. Note its drive letter (e.g., F: )

3. Your files are stored in Libraries under the THIS PC folder in Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders

4. Right click on each library folder, then click SEND TO and click on the Drive Letter of the External Storage Device from the menu. Do one at a time and let them finish.

5. The procedure for Desktop is slightly different. Call me to help you.


Continuous Backup
You may choose to use an automated service to continuously backup your files. As your files change, those changes are made to your backup copy automatically. This backup is accessed with a USER ID and Password set up by you to recover your files. The continuous backup service from Carbonite is secure and affordable at $80 a year and allows for unlimited backup, Your personal files are current and safe off-site, in case of fire, flood, lightning or ransomware.

Don’t get caught without a backup. You will regret losing your files. Contact Linda to discuss your backup strategy and implementation. I can back up your files to an external device, and I offer automated, secure backup to the Carbonite backup service. You will have a lot more peace of mind knowing that your personal files and pictures are secure from loss.

I am committed to protecting your computers at an affordable price. Thank you for trusting me to keep your computers healthy. Contact us at 239-567-0104 to renew your protection software, join a monthly “Learn Computer” training program, or schedule computer and printer help. Be well.


By Linda Lindquist, August 28, 2023