Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A New Way to Back Up Important Files; Try DropBox, Boomers

First, I want to apologize for the length of time between blog posts. As you know, I returned to school to get my Master's degree, and now I'm working on my thesis. The deadline for the thesis is nearing and I've been spending a lot of hours working on it, and so I've neglected this blog.  Today I pulled myself away from that work because I found something I think will be really interesting to most Boomers.

Specifically, I came across an article called The 25 Worst High-Tech Habits (and how to fix them) in The Washington Post  online and believe it or not it's written in a way most of us can understand. Getting to the gist of it, the author, who is with PC World, says there are certain things that people do when they have computers and high tech gadgets that are not in their best interest. I had to laugh when I saw the list, because a few of my bad habits are on there.

The very first thing the author deals with is Avoiding Security Software. Some people think they can just be careful on the web, and they won't get infected by all the viruses out there, but it's really impossible to surf that carefully. Many sites that appear to be legitimate aren't. However, I do understand why some people won't put up with security software. I've found that my security software sometimes interferes with some of the other programs I want to run. And my software often does a mini-scan of my systems when I'm in the middle of something important. All I can do is wait for it to finish because it slows down the entire machine. However, you should run some kind of security software on your computer, Boomers.

The author also takes to task people who don't back up their computer, something with which I can relate. The author has a wake up call for those of us who don't back up. "All hard drives crash eventually. All of them. Yours will too." The article provides a link to a simple guide to get started with backup, although I looked at it and didn't find the guide so simple. I haven't found backup all that simple period. Every time I purchase a hard drive to back up my data, something happens to it that I can't undo. I have to go running to my computer savvy son to help me out. Still backing up is important, and I encourage you to back up your important docs. For another point of view on this matter check out the web site, and my competitor, BoomerTechTalk (www.boomertechtalk.com), and their article Backing Up is Not Hard to Do.

While I don't back up my disk as much as I should, I've found a way to protect my important documents (including the thesis I've been working on so diligently that has kept me from updating this blog more frequently) by using a program for my PC called Dropbox.(www.dropbox.com) Once again, I have my son to thank for introducing me to this ingenious app.  When you arrive at the Dropbox site, you are greeted by this:
Have you ever seen anything so simple on a web page? When you click to watch the video, you get a very good explanation of how to use this application, which is simple and smart. Basically, you are dragging documents you've created to the Dropbox folder, which is a kind of locked box that only you can access. No matter where you are, you can open your Dropbox and get your important documents from this locked box. One word of caution though, be sure to remember your password. (I'll have more on keeping track of passwords in a future blog post.)

So if you are working on a particularly important document, you can store a copy in the Dropbox, and if your computer crashes, the document will be there, accessible from the website. Dropbox even keeps the document updated for you, so you don't have to worry that the version in your computer is different from the one you are accessing at your hotel or, in my case, on the school computer. You can also download the app for the iPhone and iPad and open your documents on these devices.  Many Boomers would probably be worried about the security of this app, but Dropbox has thought of this and says it uses " military grade encryption methods to both transfer and store your data."

Well, I'm heading back to work on my thesis now, Boomers. I'll check back in to this blog as soon as I can.


Greg Katz said...

Wow, all this time I thought I Dropbox was transmitting in plain text. I had no idea my stuff was being encrypted.

Ruby Badcoe said...

It’s definitely smart to back-up one’s files outside of their own hard drive. I think online storage is actually a good thing because it eliminates the need for me to bring a USB flash drive or an external hard drive that I might lose or misplace. I can access my files online, and open them from virtually any computer, making it easier for me to work wherever I go.