Technology: Which Computer Files Should You Back Up?

In my previous post, I promised to outline which files you should back up in your disaster planning efforts. Here is what I do (I use an online media vault that backs up everything automatically. See previous post.)

  • My Documents Folder: My two main business folders are subcategorized into broad categories, then separated into smaller subcategories. Keeping like subjects together makes it easier to back up everything (and to find anything I need later).
  • Outlook Files: You can back up Outlook to include your contacts, emails, calendar, tasks, and journal entries. You'll want to back up the Outlook.pst file. You will probably also want to back up your signature files and rules if you've set them up. (To find out where these files are on your computer, use your Search function or Google it).
  • Templates: If you create any templates (with the .dot, .xlt, .pot extensions), they're automatically saved outside of the My Documents structure. To find out where your templates are stored, in Word, click the Tools menu, Options, File Locations tab. Double-click the location that reads User Templates.
  • Downloaded Programs: These are miscellaneous applications I've either purchased or downloaded for free. I don't have the CD. Instead of saving these in the default Programs folder, I put them in a separate one called My Downloaded Programs. If I have to restore my computer files, I won't have to remember which applications I downloaded.
  • My Books: These are all the files I have for all the books I've written. I keep these outside of my main business files folder and off my computer because the files are so large. In addition to being backed up on my external hard drive and online vault every day, I also burned these files to a CD (stored in a fireproof media safe in my office) and also saved them onto a flash drive that I keep with me. 
  • QuickBooks Files: In addition to being backed up on my external hard drive and online vault every day (if changes have occurred), I also back up my company's accounting file on my computer's hard drive (QuickBooks has a backup feature built in. Anytime it asks you if you want to back up, click yes! The file that is created is the one you'll want to back up online, etc.).
  • Internet Favorites. I've bookmarked some great sites and don't want to lose the easy access. To find where your Favorites are stored using Windows XP, double-click My Computer, double-click the C: Drive, double-click Documents and Settings, double-click on your username folder. You should see your Favorites folder. (If you use Windows Vista, click the Start button, click the name of your computer, under Folders, you should see Favorites...back this up.)
  • Pictures. Pictures I use on my Website are safe on the Web server. All others are saved in the My Pictures folder.
  • Special Projects. I'm working on my family tree with the software Family Tree Maker and am backing up this file.

Did I forget anything? Let me know. Simplify your life, and make data recovery one less thing you have to worry about. If you don't think you have time to deal with this now, how will you find time to recover later? - Peggy Duncan

Peggy Duncan


I also use these services and

I also use these services and highly recommend that every business woman use them. We have enough on our plates to worry about something that can be "put to rest".
I also wrote a blog post about backing up business related files:" title="Online Data Backup Service: Business Women Should Consider">Online Data Backup Service: Business Women Should Consider

Here's at least one file

Here's at least one file you'll probably miss, your NK2 file. It will likely be named Outlook.NK2 -- this file contains the history of every email address you've typed into outgoing emails.

It will be named after your Outlook profile, and is normally stored within the C:\Documents and Settings\%user%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder (it is with both Hidden and System folders, so you'll have to specify that in a search).

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