Backing up Critical Files

The Ohio State University at Lima

Technical Bulletin #2000020803






There is no such thing as permanent storage in our computers.  Even though the hard drive provides ready and quick access to your files, if the hard drive crashes, it's all gone.  Once a hard drive crashes, there is no recovery of the files that were on the drive.  Diskettes can be a quick lifesaver if you accidentally delete a file from the hard drive, but diskettes are prone to damage and "data decay."  Diskettes are also very limited capacity, often times unable to even hold one file.  Zip drives and disks are good archival media, but also are mechanical devices that are prone to malfunction.


It is good practice to have at least two copies on separate media of your critical files at all times.  That way, if your primary means of storage (i.e. hard drive) were to fail, you can revert to your second saved copy (i.e. Zip drive).


In our networked environment, everyone has a secure, private directory on our main file server.  It is displayed in Windows Explorer as the K: drive when you are logged in properly.  This drive is your storage space on the server.  Our server runs tape backups every night, so we maintain a regular archive of all files and documents that are on the server drives.


If your office computer does not have a Zip drive, it is strongly recommended that you use the server space to backup your critical files, be they word processor documents, data files, or others.  Usually, all of your documents are stored in either C:\My Documents or C:\My Files, although if you have created other directory structures for saving your files, the directory names will be different.  The easiest way to backup this kind of data is to use two Windows Explorer windows and "drag and drop" the entire directory from the C: drive to the K: drive.  Please note:  do not copy entire program directories.  There is not enough room on the server, and in the event of a hard drive failure, programs require complete reinstallation, not just restoration from a backup copy.


All of this information is being provided to you to help you make the best decision for backing up your files.  Hard drives do fail, and almost never provide any advance warning.  If you do not have multiple copies of your data on separate media, you run the risk of losing it all.