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Protect computer files before it's too late

The nightmare has happened to most people: You are half-way through completing an important file on your computer when the program freezes or the computer crashes, and you have just lost all of your hard work. Although losing computer files can cost you time and be a minor inconvenience, many times the lost data and productivity can cost much, much more. Protecting computer files is the way to safeguard important information from being lost forever.

According to professors of computer science at Georgetown University, computers crash due to an error in the operating system, software or computer hardware. Software issues are more common, and hardware errors can be difficult to diagnose. Errors are often transient and there is no way to predict when they may occur. That makes protecting files even more important.

There are different ways to safeguard files while working. Many different computer programs have automated saving programming built right in. That means if you have not physically hit the "save" function in the document, the software will automatically save the file at preset intervals. Usually help topics of the software or an IT professional will provide the instructions to set up automatic saving.

Autonomy is also essential when backing up files. You may become distracted or fail to back up files at specified times. This may result in lost data. Instead, there is software that can be programmed to back up select or all files to a particular location. Usually this is an external hard drive that will store the information. Should a computer crash occur, you can restore the information from the last automatic back up. In the event that a computer's hard drive is unsalvageable, files can be imported onto a new computer from the external hard drive.

Although crashes caused by hardware are possible, most computer errors are caused by glitches in the operating system. Some errors are inherent at the time of manufacture, but others may be introduced thanks to the information you download or share. Viruses are common and can take over a computer and make it function abnormally. To safeguard against lost data, routinely scan any document downloaded or shared with a virus detection product. If an e-mail or file is unknown, it is safer to ignore it than risk getting a computer virus. There are many different virus protection programs available and different levels of protection that can be set.

One of the most secure methods of protecting files is to upload them to an offsite back-up source. This service is typically offered by companies that have a remote vault server to which you can save files. There may be a monthly service fee involved. It is important to verify that the remote server is encrypted so that files cannot be stolen during transit. Some services will also offer file back-up and sync to multiple computers, keeping all data up-to-date. You also may be able to access your files from any computer with your login identification.

Now that digital information is the primary mode of business and personal communication, protecting files should be a priority.