Tips for Backing Up Files


How valuable is the information on your computer? What if one day all of your documents, letters, e-mail addresses and business contacts just disappeared? A few steps to back up the files on your computer every two to three weeks can save time in the long run, not to mention spare you the anxiety and frustration of losing critical information.


Here are some situations that can cause the loss of data on a computer:


•  The disk drive for backups fails.
•  A power surge fries the machine (surge protectors are important).
•  An employee or friend accidentally erases key data.
•  A virus infects the system.
•  The hard drive crashes (it’s not a question of if, but when).
•  The computer is stolen (notebooks are particularly vulnerable).
•  The computer is destroyed by fire, floods or other disasters.


According to Scott Krah (Micro Repair), there are three main reasons members of the NMU community should back up computer files every few weeks

“If [your computer] crashes, you have no second chance to get your data back. You usually can’t get anything back,” Krah said.


Krah said he remembers a graduate student who lost his thesis, which he had been working on for seven months, after his hard drive crashed suddenly. The student made no hard copy, no back up, and he was unable to recover or save any of the document.

A second reason is to save money. Micro Repair charges students, staff, and faculty $50 per hour to assist in backing up or trying to recover files from a hard drive that has crashed. However, the Help Desk offers free assistance in learning how to appropriately back up files before a hard drive crash occurs.

The final reason Krah gives is that problems happen with computers that may not necessarily be the hard drive, and people can reimage or reinitialize their computers and accidentally lose everything.

“It will cost you [in the future]. Take a few moments and backup your files; it is worth it,” Krah advises.

Backing up files is easy and does not require a lot of time. All of Northern’s IBM computers come with IBM RecordNow , a CD-burning program that allows you to make data or music discs. To find the IBM RecordNow program, double click on the ‘my computer’ icon on the desktop. Next, double click on the C drive icon, then again on program files. These files should be

alphabetized for easy searching. Double click the IBM RecordNow folder and then on the CD icon within the folder.

You can choose to use either CD-R or CD-RW discs to record your information. There are advantages and disadvantages for each disc type. CD-R’s are cheaper, but can not be reused by erasing files. Although CD-RW’s can be reused, they are more expensive and might not be compatible in all CD drives.

Once you choose the CD type that is appropriate, IBM RecordNow will walk you through the three steps to create your data backup disc. First, insert your blank CD and click the ‘next’ button. You will then be prompted to add files and/or folders onto your disc. Click the ‘add files and folders’ button and choose the documents or folders that you wish to add. This may take some time due to choosing the files individually and trying to find the location of the desired files. If you look above the ‘name’ column, IBM RecordNow will tell you how much space you have remaining on the disc. 

Once you have selected the desired files and folders, click the ‘next’ button. A warning prompt box will appear to remind you to close other applications while recording to be sure that the sensitive recording process does not fail. As long as there are no problems during the recording process, your backup CD is done.

Backing up your files is one of the best things that you can do in order to prepare for a worst case scenario. For more information, contact the Help Desk in the LRC via phone at 227-2468 or or visit .



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Updated: April 23, 2004