Backing up is the first rule of thumb for protecting all your important data (like all those images!) and, clearly, it has real benefits. Yet it's surprising how many people don't do it...or do it improperly. A suitable backup means that a duplicate copy of your data resides on a different storage medium than your main hard drive. Copying your data to another folder on the same drive doesn't count because when (not if) your drive crashes, you may not be able to access any of the data.
What's Your Backup Plan?
A good backup plan starts with deciding what files you want to back up. This can take awhile if you have a large hard drive and thousands of files collected over the years. To speed up the backup process and reclaim valuable space on your hard drive, it's a good idea to do a little digital housekeeping and archive old data to semi-permanent storage media, such as DVD-R, BD-R or even CD-R. Although these media are "write-once," the expectation is that they will last about 100 years before deteriorating.
Once you've archived data to your discs, it's recommended that you verify and check the data on them to ensure that everything was properly transferred and that none of the files are corrupt. Lastly, you should make more than one set of these archive discs and store them in different locations. You might keep one at your office, another in a safe deposit box and perhaps an additional copy at the home of a family member.
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