Reformat my hard drive - only once
I once had to reformat the hard drive on a cumputer. This was my old trusty Windows 98se Dell computer. It took five days to get my things back in working order. This was most definitely my worst computer catastrophe ever, due to some problem between Microsoft Outlook and Norton Internet Security, which I promptly threw out. (I have been using Kaspersky Security for three years, and strongly recommend their products). The computer I currently use for office & home is a Dell laptop with Windows XP, with which I am very happy - no, I am not changing to Vista. If their are any secrets I have found the ways to keep my computer trouble free are of course -
(1) leave plenty of empty space on your computer hard-drive to allow your software to function efficiently,
(2) have only 1 security service (for virus, hackers, spam...) that you understand how to use,
(3) data should be stored (backed-up) on an external hard-drive, which should ideally be copied again to a second external hard-drive! On your computer keep only software (your tools) and your current files.
For storage purposes I use two identical 250GB LaCie external hard-drives. Each holds the same information - all my files and a complete system back-up of my computer. These are slightly larger (physical size) than an old VHS video cassette. If I travel for a long period I take one with me in order to allow consultation of all my files.
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