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Back up your data before you open the box, even if the work you are doing seems "simple". This applies doubly to any upgrades or repairs that involve changes to the motherboard, processor or hard disk. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. So many people take chances and end up with disasters. A surprisingly large number of problems can result in data loss, and unlike equipment, data is irreplaceable.
Make sure you have at least one bootable system floppy in the event that you cannot boot your hard drive. See here for details on how to make one.
Make a copy of your system's BIOS settings before doing any major work or changing anything in the BIOS.
Before shutting off the power to your PC, always use the proper shut down procedure for your operating system. For Windows 9x, Windows 2000 or Windows NT, this means using the "Shut down" option on the Start menu. For Windows 3.x, close down to DOS first before powering off.