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Prepare for a Computer Disaster in 10 Easy Steps

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 5/9/2009

It never happens to you. No tornado ever strikes your neighborhood; no hurricane ever floods your city. No earthquake ever shakes your home. No power line ever falls and blows even your most expensive surge protectors and destroys the equipment connected to it. But it could, and it happens. Learn how to be prepared, and then prepare yourself. You never know when a disaster might strike.

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    Just in case, just on the slim chance a disaster strikes, you need to be prepared. I'm not talking about having duct tape and plastic wrap or 10 gallons of water though; I'm talking about having backups, product IDs, and backups of e-mail and cookies.

    To prepare for a disaster, at least regarding your computer, applications, data, and hardware, consider the following:

    1. Collect and organize your CDs and DVDs and purchase a CD/DVD notebook. Use a permanent marker to copy product IDs from the CD cases onto their individual disks.
    2. To find product IDs that you don't have boxes for, open the program on your PC, choose Help, and select About This . You'll almost always see the Product ID there. Create a backup copy or any programs you downloaded from the Internet. Store these on a CD or DVD, or external drive. Include product ID codes and the web site name. Use Windows Backup and Restore tools to create a backup of personal data. Remember to include pictures, music, videos, e-mail, documents, TV shows, compressed files, and any additional files and folder. [See Image 1] Configure a backup program to run weekly, to backup data that has been added or edited. Move these backups to a safe place monthly, or, store them online. Create a backup disk of iTunes music (or other music service or media). Consider storing important data to an online source, such as a web site or ISP storage area. Consider purchasing a complete PC backup application. One is included with Windows Vista Ultimate. A complete backup can be used to restore your entire system quickly. Store the CDs, DVDs, and backups away from your home or office. If there's a fire, those backups will be destroyed along with everything else. Keep your tower off the floor (where a broken water heater could destroy it), away from where pets congregate, and away from anyplace coffee or cigarette smoke could get into it.
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    Backup and Restore