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PC World

August 21, 2007

by Steve Bass

Original article at PC World web site

Four Steps to a Trouble-Free PC

Use a safety OS, download security updates, keep your drivers fresh, and–please–back up!

I've been fixing Windows annoyances for more years than I care to remember. Now I'm going to fess up: Dumb, in-a-hurry, and just plain careless users--like me--often bring PC problems upon ourselves. Here's the good news: Four simple tricks can help keep your PC humming despite all your inadvertent efforts to destroy it.

Catch the Backup Habit

I know you've heard this, but the smartest thing you can do is back up every day. Don't roll your eyes. It's not that big a deal, and I have a few easy ways you can do it.

The strategy that works for me is to start with a full-image backup, do an incremental backup every day (as well as following any major product installation), and create a new full-image backup once a week.

I use Acronis True Image 10 Home ($49.99) to back up my system's hard drive onto a 400GB Seagate Barracuda internal SATA drive ($112) that slides into a Addonics Snap-In SATA Mobile Rack ($26). Backing up to and restoring from an internal drive is considerably faster than doing the same things with an external USB drive.

Once my full-image backup is in place, I click Operations, Schedule, Task To set a time to automatically back up just the files that change afterward. Unless I create lots of big files in a 24-hour period, the incremental backup doesn't take long.

Since I'm a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, I also do weekly backups to an external USB drive that I store at a neighbor's. Hard-drive expert Jon L. Jacobi prefers to back up all of the PCs on his LAN to a NAS box.