Protecting your files when moving to a new computer

You’ve spent several months researching the latest in technology and you buy a brand new top-of-the line laptop. You move over all of your important documents, family pictures, and videos. Everything is working great and you’re loving how fast the new computer is. One morning you start up your new computer and there’s a dreaded message that your hard drive is not installed and your computer doesn’t start.

This isn’t fiction – it actually happened recently to my cousin.

No problem you say, since you’ve got all your data backed up you can just get the computer fixed and put back all of your important files.

What’s that you say? You didn’t back it up? You’d better hope that whoever fixes the computer can retrieve all of your files!

Even though buying a new computer usually means that you’re getting something that is secure and reliable, there are no guarantees. The first thing to be done once the computer is up and running is to set up a backup routine.  In future posts, we will discuss the process of deciding how to back up and getting it done.

One easy method for dealing with a failure with a new computer is to leave all of your files on your old computer for a period of time. In the case of my cousin, even though this happened 1 month after he started using his new computer, all of the files were still on his old one and were easily retrieved.

That’s great you say, but what about the important files like finances and other documents that change every day? For those types of files, all of these remained safe as all of them were located in a cloud based service, such as Dropbox. Getting your frequently updated files into a cloud based service is a good first step to protecting all of your files.

How do you protect your frequently changing critical files?

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Back up your paper calendar

Maybe you prefer a good, old fashioned paper calendar over having one on your phone. People ask me all the time if I think they should switch to a digital calendar. My answer is always the same – use the tools that make the most sense to you. Sometimes a hybrid approach works. Last year my son Benji, who was in grade 9 at the time, was given a suggestion to buy on of those large monthly calendars so he could plan out a month at a time, something like this:

This was the perfect complement to his Google calendar, which he shares with us (more about that in a future post). Every month he plans out his school projects, other appointments, and plans with friends. Is there duplication? Yes, but this overall written view coupled with his Google calendar helps him remember where he has to be and what he has to do.

Wednesday nights are busy ones at our house. Benji goes to an activity at a mall nearby and buys dinner at the food court so that he can eat before being taken to another activity. While waiting for his food, he put down his calendar and forgot about it. When we checked with the mall the next day, there was no sign of the calendar.

Since this calendar is more of a supplement to his main digital one, the information located on the paper calendar can easily be recreated.  But this got me thinking about how we can apply digital data protection strategies to non digital items like paper calendars. One could take a picture of the calendar on a regular basis so that there is another copy of the information.

What this really showed is how our existing paper based products, such as calendars, notebooks and address books need to be kept safe (such as not forgetting them in a mall!) In this case, the large monthly calendar was an added benefit and doesn’t replace the digital version.

There is room for both digital and paper based product and different ways to protect both. What is your method for storing your calendar and contacts? How do you keep them protected?

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You don’t need antivirus software

What’s that? I can just picture the look on your face when you read the post subject line. I don’t need antivirus software!?

shocked look

Ok, I’m not being completely honest. While you don’t ‘need’ antivirus software, I still recommend it. Good antivirus software may prevent a nasty virus from hitting your computer.

For years we’ve been advised to have antivirus software on our computers to protect us from deadly viruses that can corrupt or destroy our important files. And if you properly protect your important files then it doesn’t matter if you have antivirus software or not – you can recover everything. If all of your files are backed up when disaster strikes, then you can get it all back. Even if you have both your computer software backed up (like Windows or Mac operating system) and your data, who really wants to have to do all the recovery work when an antivirus program might have neutralized the virus threat before it took hold.

Besides antivirus software, there are some thing you can do to keep your computer safe:

  • only go to sites that you know are trusted
  • when receiving email attachments, don’t open them unless you both know who it is from and you are expecting something to be sent
  • only install trusted software on your computer

virus detected computer

Even with doing the above mentioned items, you might still get a virus or some type of malware if a known site gets or even a friend gets hacked. I will have more to say in a future post about what to look for in antivirus software but if you are looking for a quick recommendation to either

  • keep your computer protected
  • neutralize malware or a virus that has infected your computer

I recommend checking out Malwarebytes

A few years ago when I was searching for software to clean up some malware on my computer, I tested a few different programs. What I liked about Malwarebytes is that it offered the full program functionality for free. This means that you can have it scan your computer to not only find malware and viruses but also it will clean things up. When it comes time to recommend software to put on my family and clients’ computers, I tell them to pay for the yearly fee to get the full version.

The full version gets you real time malware and virus scanning. What is the difference? Real time means it catches viruses as they try to infect your computer. Earlier I mentioned that you should be vigilant in what websites you visit. When you have Malwarebytes installed and you reach an infected website, it catches the problem before you even know it. Think of it like a personal security guard always waiting to protect you right on your computer!

Check out the link below to see the options for purchasing a license for Malwarebytes. I highly recommend running the free 2 week trial first and a full scan of your computer.


Malwarebytes for Home | Anti-Malware Premium | Free Trial Download

Do you have another program that you prefer to finding and catching viruses? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

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Why I’m so passionate about backup and protection of all

Every journey has a story about its origins and mine is no different. My start to protecting all and backup began in December 1991. I was looking through the software section at K-Mart and was digging through the piles of floppy disks that were being sold as Shareware. In today’s language, I was checking out some free apps before buying one! I came across a program called Family Tree Journal that let you create a family tree on your computer and could print it out. I bought the disk and installed it at home. This led me down a path of genealogy research that has continued to this day.

K-Mart

Floppy Disks

That genealogy software led me to many conversations with family members that included video and written interviews, copies of important documents and lots of pictures. I knew early on that it would be critical to have backup copies and to protect all of this irreplaceable information. At that time, this meant carefully organizing copies and originals in binders and cabinets. As time went on, I created a digitized system for storing all this information plus ways to access the data.

Now imagine that having all this information gathered over many years and losing all of it due to a failed hard drive or a virus. Thankfully, this has not happened. By having numerous levels of backups there is a safety net in place if a file is accidentally erased or a hard drive dies.

If only my 1991 self could see the options there are today for digitizing your life and the wealth of options the Internet has given us for accessing data through cloud based services.

Are your digital photos protected outside of your computer? Have you backed up all of your important financial documents that you’ll need for tax season? Are you overwhelmed at the thought of even tackling backup? Don’t panic, as I will guide your through what you can do to protect your all.

Don't Panic - backup your life

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Welcome to Protect My All – backup your life!

We all have so many things that are important to us to be backed up in the digital world – our documents, family photos and videos. How many times have you heard about someone losing years of precious memories when a virus wiped out their photos or a hard drive crashed – and they had no backup. With proper planning and the right tools, these disasters can be eliminated. The goal of Protect My All is best summed up with the old but true cliché – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So many times friends and clients call asking me to help with recovering lost data from either a damaged hard drive or a virus. So often is the case – no backup was completed in either a long time or ever. I remember when a friend called in a panic. She thought she had a virus and she could not open any of her pictures. It turned out that she had a ransomware virus and all pictures were gone unless she paid a huge ransom. Backup was set up but had failed and she was not notified. Some pictures were recovered but many were not.

How about the client who had email downloading to different devices? Over time, messages were only getting saved to one computer or one phone. An effective centrally stored email service prevents this from happening. I’ll have a lot more to say on this subject.

We are fortunate to live in a world with relatively inexpensive, high speed Internet. We all have important digital data in our home, how about backup of these pictures, videos and documents to the cloud – or even to our family members? There are many options to “protect your all” outside of the four walls of your house.

An overriding principle of protecting all your data is LOCKSS. This stands for “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe”. I’ll get into this in a another post, but the point is – the more backup copies you have, the better chance you have of protecting your data.

Click here to join our mailing list and learn lots more about how to Protect Your All!

What type of digital data are you most concerned about protecting?

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