When I was listening to a tech-related podcast the other day, (yes, “they” have those, think of it as a pre-recorded radio talk show that one downloads from the internet, the hosts were trying to describe people who don’t listen to tech-related podcasts.  The description they used is “normal people.”
I think that is an accurate description, so my intentions are to occasionally blog about tech for the normal people.
My first topic is the need to back up your data.  What do I mean by that?  It means having at least one extra copy of the items on your computer’s hard drive.  The data (pictures, documents, videos, etc.) stored on your computer is on a hard drive.  This is a mechanical piece of equipment with small discs and other moving parts that work together to store, and access your data.  (There are SSD’s, or solid-state drives with non moving parts, but if you’re still reading this you probably don’t have one of those and you should still be backing up your data if you do.)
Guess what happens to these hard drives?  At some point every single one of them, including yours, will fail.  Now, often this might be after you have changed computers or I suppose it could sit unused in a corner for eternity and not technically fail, but someday it will.  
When it fails, i.e. breaks, it’s not going to let you get your data off of it.  Sometimes it might happen that you’ll hear it click first and you might get a new drive in time, but in most cases there is no warning.
So, unless you don’t care if you lose all those pictures of little Bobby and Sally since they were newborns, you better have a backup.  
The simplest way to do this is with an external hard drive.  The good news is these are widely available and affordable.  This one on Amazon is $73, and will hold 1TB of data.  (That’s 1,000 Gigabytes, or also known as "plenty")
You plug this into your USB port and run a back up.  On the Mac side, just open Time Machine, select the drive and let it run.
For Windows 7 users, here are the instructions.  If you’re running a different version, there are other options.  I would stay away from the programs that put all of your data into one big “blob.”  You should have the option to be able to go in and choose individual files.
An additional option for backing up is “cloud storage.”  This is using a service on the internet and uploading your data to the “cloud”, which in reality is someone else’s computer, actually called a server.  It is good to back up to the cloud to prevent loss from fire or theft of your computer. Amazon recently rolled out a service for 5 GB of free data.  If you buy one MP3 album from them, they’ll increase that to 20 GB, which is quite a good deal.  
For smaller files I use Dropbox.  This service keeps a backup and also lets you sync your data across multiple computers.  Click here to sign up and learn more. This is a real handy service and has rid my need to use the portable flash storage or "jump drives".  You can get 2 GB free, and pay for more if you like. (If you sign up through my link, we'll both get about .25 of a GB free)
 I have an extra hard drive I take away from my house to prevent such a loss.  
Most importantly, back up somehow and someway!

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