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You can back up in several ways:
You can buy a back up system using an external hard drive, high density disks like Zip drives, or a tape drive system. If you use your computer for business, and have some big files kicking around, this is recommended.
You can subscribe to an automated service that will back up all of your files through the Internet at the end of the day. Highspeed is probably a good idea, but if your files are huge this is impractical.
You can buy a portable device, like a USB keychain device, that can hold up to a gigabyte of information Ñ more than enough for most people.
You can put your CD or DVD writer to good use by burning all your personal information to disks.
To be efficient, you want to keep most of your files in a few key areas. On Windows XP, keep all of your documents in My Documents, keep your pictures in My Pictures, etc. That makes it easy to copy folders onto your blank CD.
XP also comes with an XP Backup utility that allows you to regularly schedule backups, choosing which files in advance that youÕd like to copy. For more information visit www.microsoft.com/athom/security/update/backup.mspx.
Apple users have the same options as PC users when it comes to backing up files, including online storage through a .Mac subscription. Unfortunately OSX Panther doesnÕt have a free backup scheduling utility like XP Backup to use but maybe OSX Tiger will fill that gap.
Know thy shortcuts
Using a mouse to do everything always takes longer, even when it comes to something like surfing the web. Every piece of software you use has shortcuts, some preset and some programmable, as does your operating system.
For Microsoft XP users, you can find most of what you want at www.computerhope.com/shortcut.htm.
OSX users can find shortcuts at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=75459
Both systems will also allow you to set up your own personalized shortcuts. I have shortcuts for the spelling/thesaurus feature, word counts, and for Save As HTML. Use the Help menu to help you find the shortcut window.
For anyone who doesnÕt understand computers or what all the different words and expressions mean, I canÕt recommend the Webopedia at www.webopedia.com enough Ñ bookmark this site, and visit it anytime you get confused.