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All kinds of technology disasters have the potential to damage your computer files or make them inaccessible. For example, if your hard drive fails unexpectedly, it may be impossible to recover all the files you had stored on the drive. Your files could also be corrupted or destroyed by a computer virus, or you might inadvertently overwrite a file you intended to save.

Following one simple strategy can ensure that your important files will not be lost: routinely back up your files. In other words, always save up-to-date copies of your important files in more than one location.

What qualifies as an important file?

That decision is up to you, but most people choose to back up their: reports, budgets, theses, web pages, research data, grant proposals, procedural manuals, handbooks, policies, spreadsheets, databases, lectures, presentations, digital images, course materials, articles, reviews, essays, letters, lists, and graphs.

What are my backup choices?

If you routinely store files on your local hard drive (C:), you have several excellent choices for a backup location. These include your Smith network drive (H:), jump drives (also called "flash drives") and unlimited storage on Google Drive.

Using your network (H:) drive
Quick backup procedure for Windows users
Using Time Machine for Macintosh users
For more information

Using Your Network (H:) Drive

If you have an account on Smith's network, you also have storage space for your personal files on a network server. This personal storage space is called your H: drive on a PC, and your Home Directory on a Macintosh.

Your network drive is an ideal choice for a backup location, since everyone's network files are backed up every workday. It's so secure that many people routinely save all their files to their network drive instead of their local hard drive.

You can access your network drive whenever you're connected to the Smith network or the Internet. For information about using the Internet to access your network drive, click here.

Storage Quotas: Faculty and staff have no quotas set for their network drive storage space. .

Important Notes About Your Network Drive:

  • Never save copies of standard application programs (such as Word or Excel) on your network drive; they will quickly use up your storage space allotment. If these applications ever become corrupted, they are easy to restore.
  • If you use any non-standard applications and have the original distribution media (typically a CD-ROM), we recommend making a copy of the application on a writeable CD and storing that copy off-site. If you don't have access to a writeable CD-ROM drive, let us know and we'll be happy to help you create your copies.
  • To conserve network storage space, delete older backups each time you do a new backup of the same files or folders.

  • Never save the same data files on both your personal network drive and your department's shared drive, as this can heavily overload your department's file server.

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Quick Backup Procedure for Windows Users

Follow this simple procedure to back up files from your C: drive to your H: drive:

  1. Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop, then double-click to open your C: drive.

  2. Navigate to the folder that holds the files you want to copy, open the folder, and highlight the file names. (You can also copy an entire folder by highlighting the folder name.)

  3. With your pointer on a selected file or folder, right-click and choose Copy from the pop-up menu.

  4. Open your H: drive, then open the folder where you want to store the files or folders you copied. You can place them at the top level of your H: drive if you prefer.

  5. Right-click inside the open window and select Paste. The copied files or folders will appear in the window. They are now officially backed up.

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Using Time Machine for Macintosh Users

ITS recommends backing up all your documents, files, and settings on a regular basis. Time Machine is a backup utility for Mac OS X 10.5 and later. It is not available for Mac OS X 10.4 or earlier.

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For More Information...

If you have any questions about backing up your files, please call the IT Service Center at x4487 or send email to

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Copyright © 2015 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall   |  Northampton, MA 01063
413.585.4487  |  Questions or comments?  Send us email
 |  Last updated November 20, 2015

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