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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:), writeable CD-ROMs, jump drives (also called "flash drives"), and DVDs.

Using your network (H:) drive
Quick backup procedure for Windows users
Quick backup procedure for Macintosh users
Backing up files to a CD-ROM, jump drive, or DVD
For more information

Using Your Network (H:) Drive

If you have an account on Smith's Novell 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 to tape every workday, and the backup tapes are stored in a locked, fireproof vault. 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. Students have a nominal 1 gigabyte quota, but higher quotas can be granted if required.

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 from CD-ROM.
  • 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.

  • Never use your dropbox to store your files.  Dropboxes are intended only for temporary transfer of files, and are not backed up to tape.

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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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Backup Procedure for Macintosh Users

Follow this simple procedure to back up files from your local hard drive to your Home Directory:

  1. If you see a Datavol icon on your desktop, proceed to step 2. If you don't, follow these instructions to connect to your Home Directory (aka H: Drive or Network Drive): Connecting to your H: Drive & Shared Files on the Novell Network

  2. Drag-and-drop the files you want to backup from your hard drive to your Home Directory.

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Backing Up Files to a CD-ROM, Jump Drive, or DVD

Our recommended devices for backing-up and/or archiving your files keep changing as new options emerge to accommodate the growing complexity and size of typical user files.

For example, we no longer recommend using floppy disks or Zip disks to back up your files.  We do recommend using writeable CD-ROMs, jump drives, and/or DVDs.

For further information about all
these options, click here.

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For More Information...

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

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Copyright © 2014 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall 11  |  Northampton, MA 01063
413.585.4487  |  Questions or comments?  Send us email
 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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