Blog, Windows Support 28.8.2012 Comments Off on How to be prepared with Win 7

Oh no! You just lost your hard drive! Now what? At least you were prepared! Or were you? Let’s go over a few easy steps to keep you covered in the event of a hard catastrophic drive failure. We don’t want to hear “oh, this is too hard” or “I don’t have time right now” -those are excuses that you will kick yourself for later because it isn’t too hard, and you can make time and take a few minutes to do this.

First, find your drivers: Printer, scanner, etc. In most cases you can copy right off of the setup CD and store in a location on your computer that we will get to in just a minute.You would be amazed at how much you will thank yourself later for doing this very easy step!

Win 7 User DirectoryNext let’s talk about how easy Windows 7 makes it to back up your material! Click on Computer, Local (whatever your main drive letter is, usually C), then users. There will you will find all of your users (we have one in this example) but you may have more. These user directories have EVERYTHING that you save. The lock on this example means that the account is password protected and has permissions set for that user. The default and public are not actual users, but may contain templates and shared files that you may want to back up as well. Only you know where you save files though 🙂

 

Win 7 User Directory StructureThese are the directories that you will find inside each of your Win 7 User directories. These will be important later. Microsoft put them all in one convenient location for us. Remember the drivers that we had you back up in step I? Well here is a great place to store them! My documents, make a directory called MY DRIVERS. We will get to these later we promise 🙂

Now that you know the standard locations for your user directories, it’s time to think backup. There are several options at your disposal. We will recommend a few, as well as the pros and cons for each. First is a an external hard drive. They come in many forms, but we have found that a small (laptop hard drive inside) is our favorite for several reasons: #1 portability! Easy to unplug, drop it in your work bag and head out the door. #2 USB powered! No extra power cables to lose or have adding to the dozens of cords already around your PC or laptop. But if your drive will not travel, and you don’t mind the extra power cable, then a PC-sized external hard drive may be a good choice for you.

external hard drive

external hard drives

The Major con for both: if you have (knock on wood) a fire, flood, earthquake, or theft, your data will be gone with the same PC that you are trying to back up. To avoid this, an offsite backup is for you. There are many companies out there, but we HIGHLY recommend Carbonite.com. There is a con to companies like carbonite (always a catch right?) they only back up internal hard drives. Their software is sophisticated, and will not be tricked (we tried). But if it’s only internal hard drives, then we highly suggest their “set it and forget it” approach. $65 a year for unlimited data storage is really cheap insurance!

carbonite backup servicesOK, now that we’ve covered backing up your data, let’s talk about how easy it is to restore your data once you’ve purchased a new hard drive, reinstalled and updated your Win 7 operating system and installed your antivirus.

For Carbonite: install the software, and start the backup procedure. It’s that simple. Depending on how much data, and how fast your Internet speeds are, this could take a few days. Be patient. (oh yeah, this might be a con for offsite backup).

For your external drive, simply copy the contents of the user(s) directory to the new user(s) directory, and voila! You are back in business! Programs like iTunes, etc will automatically see the correct directories and just work for you right off the bat!

Now, aren’t you glad that you were prepared? 🙂

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