Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ensuring your Efforts to Backup Data Include all your Important Data

In the event you are using an online backup solution to backup your data, or even if you are using external USB flash drives, your data will only be protected if you are sure to grab all the files you need to protect.   If you use a device running a Mac OS, you are in luck as most of your items will all be stored in the same location.  If you use a device running a Windows OS, most of your files will be stored together, however, some programs will store files in places you might not expect.   For example, if you use software to access your email, like Thunderbird or Outlook, the location of the file holding all of your email is in your Users folder but not in Documents, where you might expect it to be.  So while you might think you are covered because you are backing up your Documents, Music, and Pictures folders, you could lose emails and other important data if something happened to your device.  Backing up your data is a step in the right direction, but It is important to be sure you are backing up all of your important data even when it is stored in folders that are not intuitive.

If you are using a Mac, most of your documents, software settings, preferences, music, and other valuable data will be located in your Users\Username\ folder.  This keeps your data neat and tidy and easier to find and backup.  If you use a device running Windows, most, but not all, of your data will be located in your Users\Username\ folder.  Also, if you have limited backup storage, your Windows Users folder also holds all the files you have downloaded as well as application data which can grow quite large.

Trying to locate all the places different programs store important files can be tedious and frustrating.  Sometimes the best way to find out where your data is stored is directly from the software itself.  Listed below are some of the most common types of software used and how you can find where your files are stored.  

Email Software

In Thunderbird
  1. Open Thunderbird
  2. In the menu bar at the top, click Tools, then select "Account Settings"
  3. In the left menu, click on Local Folders
  4. In the right pane, the file path is listed under "Local Directory"

In Outlook 2010 & 2013
  1. Open Outlook
  2. Click the "File" tab at the top
  3. Click on the "Account Settings" box and select "Account Settings" from the drop down menu
  4. Click on the "Data Files" tab to list each email address and data file location

In Outlook 2007
  1. Open Outlook
  2. In the menu bar at the top, click Tools, then select "Account Settings"
  3. Click on the "Data Files" tab to list each email address and data file location

  1. Open Quickbooks
  2. Press F2 which will pulls up the Product Information dialog box with an array of information including where the location of the database file is stored

iPhone Data Backups

If you have an iPhone and backup your phone to iTunes, your phone backups are not stored within the Music\iTunes folder.  Instead, the phone backups are stored in the following folder:  

      Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

If you have trouble finding some of the folders listed above, do not worry, as they do exist.  What you need to do is change your folder view to show "Hidden files and folders".  This is an option that is turned off by default in Windows.  To turn this option on in Windows Vista, 7, or 8:
  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. In the right corner, click the arrow next to "View by" and select "Small icons" if that is not your default setting
  3. Double click on "Folder Options"
  4. Click the "View" tab
  5. Under the Advanced Settings option, scroll to the "Hidden files and folders" heading
  6. Click the radio button next to the option to "Show hidden files, folders, and drives"
  7. Click OK to save this setting change
Backing up your data is an important step in protecting all your valuable files.  Ensuring you have all of your important files and settings included in your backup is just as important.   Taking the time to verify you have all of your data protected is a process that usually only needs to be done once but will be well worth the effort if something happens to your device.

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