3 Surprising Tricks to Backup & Restore Using Thumb Drives

Dear Computer Lady,

I have a question about backing up my computer.

I have seen recommendations for external hard drives and automatic backups to the Cloud and so forth.

Every month, I copy the files I want to keep to a thumb drive.

Is this sufficient? What else should I be doing?

Thank you! Mike

Dear Mike,

Copying files to a thumb drive is a good step in the right direction, but there are a couple of other things that you should do as a bare minimum.

1. Check your backups:
Connect that thumb drive to a different computer and verify that you can open the files. I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone bring me a backup only to find that the files on the drive are corrupt and unreadable. Even worse, sometimes the actual files are not on the thumb drive, on a shortcut to the original file on their computer. This is why I suggest you test the backup on a computer different from the one that you made the backup on.

2. Rotate your media:
Backing up to one thumb drive for years at a time is not enough. The older your thumb drive gets, the higher the chances are that you files will become corrupt at just the time you need them. If you are saving your files to a thumb drive, by them in pairs and alternate drives each week. That way if your most recent backup fails, you have another that is no more than 2 weeks old.

3. Replace the drives yearly:
Again, the older your drive gets, the higher the chance of failure. Don’t trust your important files to old thumb drives, purchase a new set every year.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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