What Do I Backup?


Dear Computer Lady,

How do you know what files to backup?  I use Quicken just about every day, and always back it up onto a flash drive when I am done.  I also have backup copies of all my Turbotax files. Other than that, I have not been backing up any other files, and I wonder if I should be doing so.

 Thanks, Peg in Orlando FL

Dear Peg,

This is a great question! Many people are not really sure what they should backup, and it is hard to figure out not only what, but where the files are located.

I can’t tell you what you should be backing up, or where it is located because it varies from person to person.

You have already told me that you use your computer for financial 

I usually get people started by asking a few questions, this gets them thinking about the different kinds of information on their computer, and the things that they use the computer for.

My first question is usually something like this…

If your computer crashed today, what would you miss the most?

Usually, this gets people thinking about the things on their computer that are most important to them.

Next, I ask questions about how you use your computer. 

  • Do you visit a lot of websites and have a large file of bookmarks?
  • Do you take digital photos and store them on your computer?
  • Do you purchase music online?
  • Do you have a lot of emails and email addresses on your computer?
  • Do you create Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, if so, where do you store them?


[ad#neromarch]Once you have thought about these questions and identified what files on your computer are important enough to be backed up, you will need to figure out where those files are located.

Most of your documents, pictures and music will be located in your “My Documents” folder if you are using Windows XP or earlier operating system.

If you are using Windows Vista, the folder structure is a little bit different. All your data is located in your user folder. Your documents are located in the “Documents” folder, your pictures are located in the “Pictures” folder, your music in the “Music” folder and so on. If you want to view these folders, just cick on start, then click on your user name located at the top of the right column.

Most of the time, you will want to backup your, “My Documents” folder in XP or your “Documents”, and other folders in Vista. An easy way to select files is just to backup your whole user folder.

If you want to save your internet favorites and are using Internet Explorer, the favorites folder is located in your user folder along with your Documents and other folders.

Once you have located the files that are important to you, all you need to do is back them up. This is rather easy to do if you have a good backup program. Some of my favorites include the Online backup Carbonite along with either Roxio Creator or Nero backup.


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