Creating original documents is dangerous work. Hours of irreplaceable work can be
destroyed in a flash due to computer hardware failure, virus infection, disk failure, or
user error. “Backup” is the most practical means of protection.
“Backup” means keeping one or more extra copies of your document, preferably in separ
ate places. Imagine the worst: what would you do if your computer crashed and you lost everything on it right now? What if the building burns to the ground? How much work
would be lost? What would you have to do to replace it?
Compose your document with frequent saves to your computer’s hard disk, and always
consider that version to be your "original" (modern hard disks are considerably more
reliable than floppy disks, CD’s, or other removable media).
When you stop for the day, or when you reach a milestone representing a level of work
that needs extra protection, “back up” by saving the file(s) to removable media: floppy
disk, CD-RW, flash drive, etc. Usually, you can do so by selecting File, Save As while
your document is open, or you can close the document and copy it with Windows
Explorer or by some other means.
If you work on lots of different files, consider using Beyond Compare or a similar program to synchronize your hard drive data folders with your backup media.
At the earliest opportunity, store the backup in a separate physical location. The backup
should be far enough from the original that the likelihood of both locations being
destroyed is extremely small.
If you can’t immediately store the backup media in another physical location and the
document isn't too big, consider e-mailing it to a friend or colleague. You can also e-mail
it to yourself. That way, the document is safely stored on your e-mail server until the
next time you check your e-mail.
The second time you create a backup of a document, make it on separate media from
the first backup. That way, you always have TWO backup copies of your document.
This will protect you from computer failure or user error that destroys both the original
and the copy while doing your backup.
If you must do significant editing to the document, save it under a different name, for
example, mypaper2.doc. Continue to use new names with each successive edition, being careful not to delete the old ones until you are 100% sure that you will never need them. This is especially important when combining documents to make a new document: always give the new
document a different name, and always save the original pieces in case they are
For extra protection, periodically print your document. That way, the document can be
re-typed if the disk version is destroyed or damaged.
If you have lots of software installed on your computer that would be time-consuming to
re-install, consider doing a backup of the entire hard drive. Many programs are sold for
this purpose, but they are more practical if you have high-capacity removable media,
such as a DVD-RW drive or a USB hard drive. If you are using a computer with Windows
XP Professional, a backup program is available under Accessories, System Tools.
If you do have media suitable for full system backup, periodically use the Windows XP
backup program and choose the option to back up "all information on this computer."
This creates what is called an "ASR" (automated system recovery) backup. When used
with the recovery CD that came with your computer, the backup can quickly restore
your entire system to the state it was in at the time of the backup, programs and data
alike. This is very helpful if you have to replace your hard drive or if there is massive
data loss from a virus.
Finally, make your backup efforts proportional to the value of the document. If you are
doing something simple and short that could easily be reproduced, you may not wish to
back up at all.