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August 2, 2010

Protect Your Business and Your Sanity – Back Up Your PC Data

Disasters happen, no matter if it’s in “real life” or in the business world. When it comes to protecting the physical assets of a business, many companies and private professionals have insurance to cover themselves and their businesses. But here’s an important question: What are you doing as a business owner to protect one of your most valuable assets – the information stored on your computer?

Digital assets can be the single most valuable part of a small business, both for small storefront and office-based companies, and also SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) practices. In the Information Technology (IT) world, that information is called “mission critical” data. Are you doing the basics to protect your critical business information? For my money, backing up that data is the easiest way to create a simple, effective disaster-recovery plan. one that lets you sleep comfortably at night, without worrying about lost business information.

I’ll talk about all the different kinds of information stored on a PC that should be saved and backed up. Every computer stores huge amounts of information. But don’t worry! Only a small percent is the kind of data that needs to be saved on a regular basis. I’m talking about information that changes on a day-by-day basis. Think about it: new clients are being added to your records every day, or additional inventory arrives on a regular schedule. All kinds of important records change every day, including financial records, customer files and more.

The good news is, Windows-based computers store all this information in one central folder. Folders are the containers the computer uses to store information. Storage devices such as the internal hard drive contain numerous folders and sub-folders, and each of those can be used to store program information or what’s called “User Data.” In a word (or two), user data is the “stuff” you create. No matter if it’s a document you typed, a pictures transferred from your digital camera, or a song downloaded from an online store, its’ all “user data.Any PC folder can contain more folders, or files, or both.

In the newest version of Windows, (Win 7), all the user data you create is stored in a folder called Users. To find it, click the Windows “Start” button, then look at the upper-right portion of the two-column layout. Usually, the upper most right item will either be your user name, or some other name that was put there when the computer was first started. You might see a name like Owner or Administrator. Under that one folder, you’ll see all the various sub-folders in your user account. Inside, there are folders including Documents, Music, Pictures and others. Documents are the most important “chunks” of data to back up, but you may also need to save additional folders such as Pictures, Music and others.

Coming up in a future article… where are all these important files to be backed up located?

Bill Sklodowski helps small business owners and SOHO (small office / home office) professionals “leverage their digital assets” with easy-to-understand, articles, videos and training materials in two important areas of business: Digital Marketing and business-related computer skills. You can see the entire series on PC data backup at =>