Applications can always be reinstalled, but your data is the most important thing on your computer or network. Here's a look at 10 ways you can protect that data.

  1. Save as you work. You should always save your work as you go and learn how to use the 'auto-save' features in your application.
  2. Make a backup. Before you make changes to critical data always make a duplicate. Even if you just made a backup yesterday - make another.
  3. Keep a copy of your data offsite. Diligently backing up your data is good practice but keep a copy of your data offsite. If there were a fire or other disaster your onsite data backup could be lost as well.
  4. Refresh your archives. Years ago you archived your data to a zip drive. Now you decide to use that data as a baseline - are you sure there is still a zip drive that can read your data? As technology changes, it is a good idea to transfer your data to a current data storage standard so that you aren't stuck with irretrievable data. Information Systems & Technology (IST) provides a backup service.
  5. Never open email attachments by habit. If your email reader has an option to automatically open attachments you should disable that feature. Always run any attachments and downloaded files through a virus scanner first.
  6. Never trust disks from other people. Anytime you receive a file on any type of media check it first for viruses!
  7. Update your software. Make sure you have the latest updates for your software - especially for your virus checking software. Make it a habit to regularly check for updates and enable automatic updates for software that offers that feature.
  8. Protect your passwords. Your userid is your identity. The key to your identity is your password. Anytime your account accesses the network you are responsible for any activity from that account (see Guidelines on use of Waterloo Computing and Network Resources). Remember to change your password on a regular basis.
  9. Protect your computer. Use a secure operating system which requires users to be 'authenticated'. As an added benefit these operating systems also restrict what individual users can see and do on the system.
  10. Perform regular maintenance. Learn how to use the utilities that diagnose your system for problems. It is a good idea to run a disk-scanning program, defragment your hard drive, or whatever else your system might need. These utilities can prevent little problems from becoming big problems, and will keep your system running at top speed. If you need help with a big problem IST has a hardware repair service.