My Secret For Backing Up

Dear Computer Lady,

I have been a long time reader of your newsletter and have learned any number of useful things about computers. I consider myself to be an “experienced newbie” but still have questions in many areas.

I get a little bent out shape when the advice is always given = back up all your files before reinstalling Windows or doing a new install or similar. What does that actually mean ? I know I can go to MY DOCUMENTS where most people likely keep all their personal files and save that.

However if you are the techie that I bring my computer to in order to do some major overhaul – what SPECIFICALLY do you do in your backup of MY computer to avoid losing MY data ?? There must be more than just copying MY DOCUMENTS folder. Where else do you search and what for – drivers, settings, etc. ??

I am still on Win XP………….I know the dangers.

Thanks in advance, Arthur

Dear Arthur,

Only the owner of a computer can tell me exactly what needs to be backed up on their computer. Backing up all your data might mean a lot of music and videos to one person, while it could be thousands of photos to someone else, or letters and spreadsheets to another. My secret to a good backup is communicating with you.

The first and most important thing that I do to backup your computer is ask you some questions. I want to know things like what you use your computer for, if you keep any files in unusual places, what type of email program you use, etc. Your answers to these questions tell me what I am looking for when I go to backup your data.

After our interview, I find that I can usually back up most computers by simply backing up the “Users” folder. (In Windows XP it is the “Documents & Settings” folder.) This saves your documents, pictures, videos, music, favorites, Windows contacts, and most other types of user data.

If there is anything out of the ordinary that you are concerned about, I will do a full image of the hard drive so that all the files on the computer are saved.



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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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