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5 Ways to Protect Your Digital Files

The digital age helps us save on space and paper, but it also means we have to be diligent to avoid losing items such as special photos and tax records. Follow these five steps to help ensure your digital files remain safe.

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Keep your digital data safe by backing up files regularly.

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1. Create Extra Copies

“Your data should be in at least two places,” says Lisa Walker, president of the U.S.-based International Imaging Industry Association. For example, your anniversary photos can get deleted if the only place they’re saved is on your camera’s memory card. “External hard drives are a good solution,” says Walker.

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2. Sort Sensibly

Label your files in a meaningful way-by event or project name. “Then you can find them if you need to,” says Bill Margeson of CBL Data Recovery Technologies in Markham, ON.

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3. Back Up Files Regularly

You don’t need to back up your whole system every day, but do make external copies of important files that have changed after you update records or add new images to a collection. “Have a backing-up routine before you shut down for the day,” Margeson says.

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4. Test Your Backups

Here’s a common mistake: diligently making backups, then failing to check if they work. Moreover, CDs can degrade over time, and new technology may not be compatible with old systems. As you upgrade, remember to convert older files to the newer formats.

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5. Store Your Copies Off-site

Keep CD, DVD and other electronic copies at the office, or carry your data with you. “A portable hard drive is small and light,” says Walker. Online storage is another option. You can upload photos for free on websites such as flickr.com, or store them online (MobileMe for Mac users and Bell Personal Vault for Windows) for less than $10 a month.

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