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Backing Up Financial Data on Your Computer

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Storing Your Backup Disks
If you're backing up your computer files only in case your computer crashes, you can simply keep the disks in a drawer. If you want to protect them in case of fire or theft as well, you need to take an extra step or two. You can either store your disks offsite or store them in your home with added protection.

If you choose offsite storage and you're using rewriteable disks, you might find it easiest to have two sets of disks: Create one set and put it in storage; next time, back up to a second set of disks, take them to your storage place, and swap the second set for the first. The third time you do your backup, use the first set of disks and retrieve the second set to reuse the next time. Here are some potential offsite storage solutions:

  • Trade with a friend or neighbor – Choose someone whom you trust not to snoop in your files, of course. Or if you trust no one that fully, password-protect the disks. Then take a set of backup disks with you each time you see that person, or set a regular date to trade. You don't have to take special measures to protect each other's disks – just store them as you would any of your other computer media. The advantage of this option is that it's highly unlikely both your home and your friend's will be burglarized or destroyed in a disaster at the exact same time. If something happens to your computer, you'll have the files at your friend's place, and if something happens to them there, you still have your original data at home. This option has the added bonus of a built-in reminder: Every time you see this person, you'll remember to back up your files.
  • At work – Store your disks in a locked drawer in your desk or locker at work. This way, they're safe if something happens at home and you can access them as often as you go to work.
  • Safe deposit box – If you already use a safe deposit box, you could add your disks to it and get more value for your monthly rental fee. You can be sure they're safe in this environment, although your access is somewhat limited.
  • Fire safe – If you want to store your disks at home, you might think the fire safe you already have is all you need. You might be right, but double-check its ability to protect computer media. According to fire safe manufacturer Sentry (www.sentrysafe.com), paper products can withstand heat up to 450 F, but computer disks, audio and video cassettes, photo negatives, and other delicate items can be damaged at just 125 F. Sentry makes a few safes that are intended to protect computer media.
Using a Disk-Free Option: Online Storage
If you don't want to mess with disks and don't mind paying a monthly fee, check out the many companies offering online storage for your backup files. The basic idea is that you send your files to the company's computer (which is much larger and more sophisticated than yours) via the Internet and it stores them for you in a much safer environment than your own. Online storage has several advantages, including unlimited storage capacity (but the more space you rent, the more you pay) and none of the damage risks associated with disks and CDs. It also provides a solution for those who do not have the equipment or software to back up to CD, and it also allows you to access your files from any computer with Internet access, so it's convenient for frequent travelers.

One such company, IBackup (www.ibackup.com), promises vigorous protection from earthquakes, fires, break-ins (onsite as well as hackers), and server crashes and offers a variety of storage space rental options, from 50MB for just $3 per month up to 100GB for $800 per month. Its 4GB for $14.95 per month should be adequate for most households.

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Reproduced from Organize Your Personal Finances in No Time, by Debbie Stanley, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit Amazon to order your own copy.


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