What Can Cause Me to Lose Files?

By: Joshua Volz

Viruses / Trojans / Malware
Electrical surges
Physical damage
Natural Disasters (Fire, Flood)
Heat Damage
Hard drive failure
Accidental Deletion

How can we prevent these loses? I'll discuss each in turn and lay out what I do to reduce the risk each of these occurences.

Viruses / Trojans / Malware

These issues can be overcome by taking two important steps. First, make sure your version of Windows is up to date. You can do that by finding the "Windows Update" entry in your start menu or opening Internet Explorer and navigating to . Second, you should install some form of virus software. Norton Antivirus or Trend Micro are reasonable options.

Electrical Surges

Electrical Surges can be taken care of by using a surge suppressing power strip which can be found at almost any home improvement store. Another alternative is to invest in a battery backup. I use an APC battery backup. Several times during brown outs this backup has kept my computer from shutting off and me from losing work.

Physical Damage:

Your computer should be in a secure location, preferably tucked away from foot traffic and certainly in a location where no one will trip over the wires. Most of the time either on top of or under a sturdy desk is a good option.

Natural Disasters (Fire, Flood)

Had I written this article 3 weeks ago, I might have forgotten to mention this one. Then, I was evacuated from my home during the southern California fires. I was able to simply grab my external hard drive (which was up to date because I backup every night) and leave safely. Had I not had this backup, I might have had to take the computer with me, as well as my wife's computer because we each have work that we cannot lose. I imagine anyone experiencing a flood would feel the same way. My wife also has a lot of our personal pictures on her machine, which we could have lost had we not had a backup.

Heat Damage

Heat Damage can occur if your computer overheats while in use. This can occur if the computer gets filled with dust or if the fan in your computer fails. To prevent this from happening always make sure your computer is clean and that airflow is possible through the vents in the case. Each time you clean it, make sure your computer fan is in proper working order. It can be heard when the computer is on, or you should be able to feel the fan moving air in or out of the vents. You can also check to see if your computer power supply is overheating by checking for warm air coming out of the top rear of your computer case.

Hard Drive Failure

This section refers to a mechanical failure of the hard drive, commonly referred to as a hard drive crash. This is an internal error not immediately caused by some external source and is usually an indication that the drive is worn out. You will notice your computer acting strangely, not booting up correctly or giving you strange error messages if this is starting to happen. You may also hear a sound coming from your computer that sounds like grinding. If you suspect your hard drive is failing, you should make a backup copy of all of your important files (this will be covered in future articles) immediately.

Accidental Deletion

This refers to when you accidentally delete or overwrite a file that you need. The accidental deletion can often be fixed by going to the Recycle Bin in Windows. The Recycle Bin can usually be found on your desktop. Open it by double clicking, and then find the file you are interested in getting back, right click on that file and click "Restore File".

A more troublesome error is when you overwrite a file which you didn't intend to. This is most common when you have a file and are trying to duplicate it and then make alterations to the duplicate. Most of the time, people open the file, alter it and then click "Save" instead of "Save As". This can be prevented by opening the file, then immediately clicking "Save As" and making the duplicate file. That way you never make alterations to the original file.

Taking these simple steps will help keep your important files safe.

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