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Backups, Source Disks and Boot Disks

When it comes to their computers, for most people, there is nothing more important than their data. Despite this, few PC users make backups of their systems. Even worse, most new systems come with the means to readily make a backup of the hard disk. Sure, your new system may have a floppy drive or even a Zip disk. But as hard drive capacities have moved into multi-gigabyte territory, these have become largely inadequate for regular backup.

I consider backup sufficiently important that I have an entire section devoted to it. However, I wanted to mention specifically that it is important to find some way to do regular backups of your new system, in the event that disaster strikes. If you can't afford a large-capacity backup device, at least use whatever removable medium you have to backup key data and operating system settings on a regular basis.

Another issue that you need to pay attention to is related to source disks. When you buy a software product off the shelf and install it, it comes on a CD-ROM. You install the software, and if you ever need to install it again, you can use the CD-ROM again. The CD-ROM is the source of that software. Unfortunately, many new PCs come with their software preinstalled on them and no source disks! This saves the manufacturer money, and is fine right up until the point where you need to reinstall the software--then you have a problem. In some cases, you may be able to get the manufacturer to send you the source disks, perhaps at a cost; but call to find out before you discover you are missing something you need. And if the manufacturer won't send the source disks, then unless you adequately back up your PC, your system may eventually have a serious issue.

Finally, there is the matter of boot disks. These are floppy disks that contain necessary operating system files and drivers to allow your PC to be started up in the event of a hard disk failure, virus or similar trouble. Your system will either come with boot disks, or a software utility to let you make them yourself. Be sure you have at least two working boot disks, and put them in a safe location. See this page for more on these disks.

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