We all would like to think that our documents, photos, videos and other data is safe on our computer hard drives, but that often isn’t the case. The truth is that a personal computer really doesn’t make for a good long-term storage system. In fact, people often fail to consider how fragile computers can be. Even the most powerful computers with the biggest hard drives are one power surge or virus away from being completely wiped out, and unless you have saved your work in another format or backed up your entire system it is often lost forever.

Sadly, just about every computer owner can relate to having their computer crash and losing weeks, months or even years’ worth of documents and other files. It happens more often than many people like to admit, sometimes without warning. Fortunately, there are various things that people can do these days to protect their data from such catastrophes.

Why Data is Lost

Data can be lost for a number of different reasons. In some cases, it is because a computer or external hard drive is stolen. This often happens to laptops that are taken on the road since they are far more vulnerable to theft, but it can also happen to desktop computers during break-ins. This is really a worst-case scenario because it means that somebody else has access to your data, although most thieves will be more likely to wipe out the hard drive or using only parts of a computer; they’re more interested in the computer than the data. Other reasons for lost data can include power surges that fry hard drives during thunderstorms, corruption caused by viruses, faulty hardware, or simple user error. In any case, the loss of data can be devastating, and it’s important to take steps to prevent it as much as possible. Here are a few things that can help.

Store Your Important Data on an External Hard Drive

When it comes to long-term storage of data, using a computer’s internal hard drive is usually a bad idea. If a computer has only one hard drive, it obviously also contains the computer’s operating system and everything else it needs. It can be very easy to corrupt, and if that happens you will lose all your data along with the rest of your computer. Back up all the documents and files you want to save on an external hard drive instead.

Store Your Documents in the Cloud

Using a cloud-based system to store documents is a fairly new concept, but it is one that has proven very useful. The cloud can be accessed from any computer, so if your personal computer goes down you won’t have to worry about losing all of your work. There are several great off-site data storage systems available online, some free of charge. It’s free to set up and very user-friendly.

Install Reliable Antivirus Software

Viruses are known for corrupting computer systems in ways that require a full system restore. Of course, that means losing all the data on a computer’s hard drive. By now, most people know how to protect themselves from viruses such as not clicking on any strange links or not opening any strange email attachments, but viruses and malware can still cause problems even for the most vigilant users. Invest in an antivirus program that protects your computer from these threats, and make sure you update it frequently to make sure you are protected against newer viruses since virus programmers have a knack for staying one step ahead of the antiviruses.

Take these precautions to protect your computer, and keep checking the news to see if there are any additional safety measures you could be taking to keep your private data yours.

Gwendolyn Traci

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