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Backing Up Your Important Files

Then there's the issue of protecting your files. What do you do if your computer crashes, or your hard disk dies—are all your important files and documents totally lost?

Not so if you're prescient enough to back up your key files on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is by connecting an external hard disk drive to your computer. Get a big enough external disk (200GB or larger), and you can copy your entire hard disk to the external drive. Then, if your system ever crashes, you can restore your backed-up files from the external drive to your computer's system unit.

External hard drives can be purchased for as little as $100 and are easy to connect via either USB or FireWire. You can use the proprietary backup software that comes with most external drives, or use Vista's Windows Backup utility. Whichever program you use, you should back up your data at least weekly—if not daily. That way you won't lose much fresh data if the worst happens.

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