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Setting up backup is something you must do proactively, before your computer crashes or becomes infected.

If your computer crashes, your data may be recoverable, or it may not. The same applies if you get a virus. Some viruses are a mere annoyance, while others destroy or lock all your files. So just in case you’re one of the unlucky ones in the future where you (or a computer tech) can’t recover your data, I highly recommend setting up an automated backup now if you haven’t already.

Setting up backup is something you must do proactively, before your computer crashes or becomes infected. I often see customers ignore backing up their computer because it’s not a pressing issue when all is good. I see backup like home or auto insurance. You may never have to use the insurance/backup, but spending the time and money setting it up beforehand can surely pay off if you do run into trouble. It’s something you wish you had if the time comes where you need it.

So, if your documents, photos, and other files on your computers or mobile devices are important to you, keep them backed up! Here I share some tips on how to do this:

Buy a backup drive: One way to back up your files is to buy an external hard drive, or a USB flash drive that offers enough storage space. You can then use the features built into Windows, the hard drive, or other backup software to automatically copy your personal files or entire computer onto the external hard drive every so often, maybe once per week, per day, or with every file change.

Subscribe to cloud or online backup service: Although backing up your files to a separate drive—as just discussed—will keep them safe if your computer crashes, it may not provide protection against bad viruses, theft or disasters. If you get a bad virus and the backup drive is plugged into the computer, the virus could also wipe out the backup drive. Or someone could break in and steal your computer and the backup drive, or a tornado or fire could destroy everything. For protection against these situations, consider backing up online.

Backup your web browser data: One thing most backup drives and cloud services won’t back up is your browser data, like from Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Mozilla Firefox. You should consider syncing your browser’s data online. That way if your computer crashes, you won’t lose your bookmarks, saved passwords, and other browser data. Plus, when it’s online, you can sync the browser data with other computers or devices, so you can access the same bookmarks and saved passwords across all devices.

Don’t forget about smartphones and tablets: Though cell phones and tablets these days can hold hundreds of photos, you should ensure they are backed up regularly. You can download them to your computer in case the device becomes lost, stolen, or damaged. But for automated backup, utilize your device’s cloud service to back them up online. For Android devices, you can use Google’s backup service and for iPhones/iPads, you can use Apple’s iCloud backup services.

Backups also can include text messages, contact lists, and apps you use. Having a current backup when you get a new device can also greatly help when transferring over the data and apps from the old device.

Don’t forget about your flash drives: If you use a USB flash or external drive to exclusively store and access files on, remember to back it up too. They can be easily stolen, lost, or broken. You may be able to setup backup software to keep it backed up, or you could at least manually copy the files onto your computer once in a while.

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, a computer repair and IT services company offering on-site service at homes and businesses in the Dayton and Springfield areas and also a storefront at 4732 S. Dixie Dr. in Moraine. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

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