Information Technology Services

Back Up Your Data

You never know when the unexpected may occur. There is always the potential that you may accidentally delete an essential file. Computer data occasionally gets corrupted, your computer may be lost, or damaged beyond the point of affordable data recovery. It is important to always be prepared for the unexpected. Information Technology Services strongly recommends that you back up your essential information at least once a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I backup my essential data?
    • Routinely.
      Backup as part of your weekly routine. To protect yourself against accidental data loss, you should back up your files according to a regular schedule (e.g., every Friday afternoon). You may also choose to back up each file whenever you make changes to it.
      Before Installing new software.
      Backup before you install new unfamiliar software. It is always better to be safe and have a good back up of essential information just in case a software installation does not go according to plan.
      Before Repair.
      Always back up before you send you computer for repair to an authorized computer repair center. For Clark owned computers the ITS Help Desk does all it can to insure integrity of data, but sometimes repairing computers can cause accidental loss of data. It is always better to err on the side of caution rather than suffer the loss of important data.
      Before you move to a new computer.
      Always back up your data when you are moving to a new computer. If you are using a Clark owned computer, it is expected that the person who created the data is responsible for the integrity and safety of the data.
  • What Data is Important?
    • The importance of data is difficult to identify, for people who have not created the data. In our experience most people prefer to back up the following types of files:
      Most of your essential documents will save to the My Documents folder by default. If you have changed the save location of documents or save files directly to your Desktop you will want to back up this file as well.
      Internet Bookmarks or Internet Favorites
      Your bookmarks or favorites are always saved on your computer. While it may not be critical for all people, it is important to consider if you would like to maintain your bookmarks.
      Outlook Archives
      Microsoft Outlook is not configured natively to store your archive file in the My Documents folder. It is highly recommended that you relocate your Archive file to the My Documents folder in order to remember to back up this essential piece of information. For more information on Outlook Archives please read Archiving E-mail.
  • Can I back up my program files?
    • You can not back up entire programs. You should always keep the original copy of any software you have purchased in order to reinstall it on new computers (provided that installation is permitted on a replacement computer by your software license). If you have a Clark owned computer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, and several other programs are already installed. If you have questions about software please contact the ITS Help Desk.

It is critical to regularly back up the data (files) stored on the hard drive(s) of your computer: If your hard drive crashes or a situation develops that prevents you from accessing the hard drive, the data and your work is lost if you don't have a back-up copy.

In general, the safest choice is to back up your critical data to an external medium. Some popular options are CD/DVDs, USB Flash drives (i.e., a small removable drive that you connect to your computer using a USB port), and external hard drives. The option you use will depend upon a number of factors, including the amount of data you want to back up.

As it turns out, most modern operating systems come with their own integrated backup software that guides you through the process of setting up and scheduling a backup. Here are some tutorials from Microsoft and Apple.

Backup Tutorials