Save Your Sanity Data Backup and Organization

disks3Backup your data.
Save your files frequently while working.
We have all heard these recommendations since we have been creating files on the computer. This basic backup guideline can save you more than just time.

How much work do you want to have to re-do? There are several situations when you may find that a backup or recently saved file is essential. Files can freeze while working in them, corrupting the data. Loss of electricity or power interruptions can corrupt or “lose” files. Virus infections can destroy and corrupt data.

Here are a few simple steps to maintain the integrity of the data you are working with.

Turn on the auto save setting in your spreadsheet and word processing software programs. The program will then save a backup copy of the file you are working on every few minutes. Save frequently while working. You can use the shortcut Ctrl-S to save your file every 5 to 10 minutes. It depends on how much you are willing to re-enter should the file become lost or unusable.

Make frequent backups of your entire system. At home, it is important to get in the habit of backing up your data. Backup daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the amount of data that you process daily. You can revise your backup process to fit your needs. In the workplace, the network is generally backed up daily. Backup your hard drive. There are many instances when we work on files on our hard drive instead of the network. At the end of each day, you should copy any files that you have worked on during the day to your user directory on the network. This will ensure that you will have a backup copy of all your files.

Verify that your backup copies are working properly. Test your backup tapes to make sure they are not blank. Tapes, CDs, and diskettes wear out over time with frequent use. If you are using the same media for data storage repeatedly, checking to verify the data on the disk will ensure that you can replace faulty disks timely. When you need to restore a file from your backup media, it is important to know where that data has been stored on the disk. To facilitate file restoration, you will need to know the name of the file and the directory where the file was saved.

Organize your data files on your system in much the same way you would in a file cabinet. If you do not have a separate drive set up for data only, setting up a folder on your root directory named “Data” can simplify your backup processes. Then you can make a backup of just one folder. A sample folder structure for accounting information can be set up in the following way:

  • Data
  •     Accounting
  •         Month End Close
  •         Financial Statements
  •         Accounts Receivable
  •         Inventory
  •         Accounts Payable

You can add additional folders for any other accounting functions that apply to your business. Files within each folder can then be stored in folders by year. This keeps your accounting files organized and easily accessible.

All files should be kept according to your records retention policy. Review your files once or twice a year to clear out files that are no longer needed. You can permanently delete them or archive them in prior year folders. You can establish a Data folder named “Library” to store informational documents and templates that you refer to infrequently. This moves them out of your “working files” and keeps them easily accessible for future reference.