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When was the last time you backed up your computer data? How many files and folders do you have on your computer? A rough guess will do. Personally I have over 85GB of data, music, Photoshop files and emails that I desperately would not want to lose.

Backing up your data files on Windows is a simple and straight forward process that you should complete on a regular basis. I should know as a while back I didn't follow my own advice and lost all my files when one of my hard disks became corrupted.

I had to re-install Windows XP and re-download all the programs I could remember having. I also had to buy a couple of software programs again as the drive that failed had all my emails on it, so I couldn't prove I had purchased the software.

Windows has a built in back up facility that is adequate. It's not exactly the best program out there, however it will allow you to back up your data for free. To access it Click Start, highlight All Programs, highlight Accessories, highlight System Tools, and then click Backup to start the wizard.

Within the wizard you will be asked exactly what files you wish to back up and to where. What files you back up will help you make a decision on where you wish to back up.

If you wish to back up only really critical files that are not that huge you may be able to back up onto a flash drive or memory stick. These are getting cheaper and cheaper and 8GB or 16GB versions are very cost effective these days.

If you wish to back up more files, or even all of your files then you may be best using a portable hard drive. Portable hard drives offer offline storage and as long as you store it away from your computer [no point storing it in the same room or building really], offer a good worthwhile solution.

Portable hard drives are very similar to flash drives in that the price is very reasonable and if you are serious about keeping the data on your computer redundant, then it is cost effective, especially if you do have a computer or hard drive failure.

There are quite a few alternative free backup software options available, that for a home user will be more than sufficient. There are paid for back up programs also that are available, they maybe would be better suited to businesses that require more powerful and scalable

Another option is for online storage. There are many free online storage options available as well as paid. If you can afford it, paid for online storage is best as you should be given guarantees by the online storage merchant.

However you back up your data and what medium you keep it backed up on, having a regular back up schedule and keeping to it will give you piece of mind and will safe you hassle further down the line when one of your computer components fail.

John French has over 15 years experience of building and repairing computers. He has extensive knowledge of keeping computers healthy and free from spyware and malware.

Want to discover more tips and secrets that can speed up and protect your computer for free? Then check out his online blog at http://www.john-french.net

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