Digital Declutter Challenge #4: Back Up Your Computer

The Digital Decluttter. Back everything up.

The Digital Declutter Challenge is underway, and soon we will start working on the content of your devices. Before doing any work on digital files, it is a good idea to back everything up. This way, if you should delete something that you later decide you want, you can easily grab if from your backup. Making decisions is easier if you aren’t afraid of regrets. If you already regularly backup your devices, you can skip today’s project!

backup devices
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

To backup your devices, you have a couple of options:

  1. An optical drive (such as a CD or DVD) or a thumb drive.
  2. An external hard drive like this or this.
  3. Online storage (e.g. Dropbox, iCloud)
  4. Automatic online back-up service (e.g. Carbonite, Backblaze)

Here is a video you might find helpful that talks about the pros and cons of the various options.

Click here to watch the video!

Remember, a strong backup strategy utilizes multiple options.

Today, the goal is to make sure that you have at least one copy of everything on your devices.

First, backup your phone and ipad/tablet. You may have a system set up to do this automatically, but if not, you can back these up to your computer by plugging them into your computer and following the prompts.

Now it is time to backup your computer. For today’s purpose, a simple CD/thumb drive or one-time cloud upload is probably sufficient. If you have a computer that is loaded with years of data, you will likely need to use more than one CD or thumb drive. Or, you may decide you don’t need to make a backup of every single file. Be sure to backup all important data, including financial data, important documents, work information, household records, and favorite photos. [One product I like for backing up photos is the Picture Keeper . This comes in formats for both laptops/desktops and mobile devices, and automatically eliminates duplicates before making a backup of all your photos.]

After copying your important data, label the disks or thumb drives with today’s date and put them in a safe place. If you’ve chosen to upload key files to a cloud storage location, make sure you label them clearly and date them.

Having a reliable, ongoing backup system is very important. You can take a “snapshot” for our project today, but if you don’t have a plan for backing up your digital files (preferably an automatic system), I recommend investing some time to put one in place.


Do you have a backup system for your digital files? What approach works best for you?

8 thoughts on “Digital Declutter Challenge #4: Back Up Your Computer”

    1. Good for you, Janine. Do you manually upload to Dropbox or is it automatic? So important for someone in your profession- you get the day off!

    1. Your files and photos are so important, and I give you a gold star (!) for having 3 backups. If I had photos like yours, I would certainly be making sure to backup regularly:)

  1. Great advice in your article. You can’t emphasize the need for good, frequent backups enough. I deal with panicked people everyday who have never backed up their devices. If you have an iPhone or iPad, I recommend that you use the iTunes software on the computer to do a full backup of these devices, since iCloud does not back up all of the device files. iTunes has a Full backup and restore function that will restore everything except your custom ringtones (not sure why this isn’t restored). If you ever lose your iPhone or iPad and need to recover your information, you will beable to get your photos and contacts through iCloud, but many App data files and other audio files are not backed up via iCloud. Also – don’t forget to password and encrypt your backups. If you ever get a virus, ransomware, or your computer is stolen, that backup has all of your information on it, and you want it secured so that a thief cannot have access to that information.
    Bob Ruckle recently posted…Digital Declutter Challenge #4: Back Up Your ComputerMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for this comment with such great information. You make an excellent point about what iCloud does – and does not- back up. I also appreciate your comment about encrypting our backups. I think most of us are still coming around to an understanding of how vulnerable our devices are. Please keep commenting as your clearly have a lot of knowledge in this area!

    1. I think having either an auto back-up to the cloud or an external back-up that operates automatically are the best. Relying on our “remembering to backup” typically means we don’t back up often enough.

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