blogs / tech tips for writers

Time to Image and Backup Your Computer

This week, I’ll post my updated suggestions for three holiday activities that will get your computers and technology ready for the blitz of writing you’ll swear to accomplish in New Year resolutions. Here’s what you’ll get (the links won’t be active until the post goes live):

  1. 12 Ways to Update Your Online Presence
  2. 17 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer
  3. Backup and Image your computer

For regular readers of WordDreams, these are yearly reminders. For my new readers, these are like body armor in the tech battle. They allow you to jubilantly overcome or dramatically succumb. Your choice.

Today: Image and Backup Your Computer

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

Image your computer

When you image your computer, you take a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, and save in a secure backup area. If malware blows up your computer or ransomware locks you out, all you have to do is re-install from the image.

I used to do this with Carbonite but they no longer offer that service so now I use Acronis. It creates an image of my computer on the schedule I set up. It’ll even image drives that are plugged in (like my USB drive).

BTW, if you use a Chromebook, there’s no need for this. You do what’s called ‘Power Wash’ which returns the device to original settings. Since you don’t download to Chromebooks, that works nicely and speeds the device up significantly.

backup via emailBackup Data Files

Every writer I know has lost critical work because they didn’t back up on a regular basis. There’s no reason for that. Backing up is easy, fairly quick, and usually free.

Here are some options for backing up your computer:

  • backup from the same spot you imaged (see above) on your Windows accessories.
  • use a service that automatically and continuously backs up data files to the cloud so even if you forget to do this, they don’t. 
  • email copies of your most important writing to yourself. For my WIP, I do it every day. If you use Gmail, you can email up to 20 MB (or more through your Google Drive).

For more details on backing up your computer, check out LifeHacker, PC World, and Windows online help.

A reminder from Janet over at Focused on Story:

“…check your external hard drive to make sure it actually has the computer backed up files on it. Unfortunately we backed up to it, but all of the files weren’t getting backed up. We’d had the back-up a long time, so when the tech checked it, he heard something rattling inside. It was broken! sigh.”

Yep–I had that happen once, too!

Another suggestion from Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week:

“On a Mac, use an external USB drive and time machine to backup and consider using iCloud for remote backups.”


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

52 thoughts on “Time to Image and Backup Your Computer

  1. Hi Jacqui,
    I’ve just popped in to wish you a happy new year and to say that I hope 2020 will be the best year ever!
    Thank you so much for your support throughout the year. You are appreciated.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tips, Jacqui. I use an external drive to save all my files and store applications, but I will now go and run backups! Thanks for the reminder 🙂 I hope you had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying your break. I’ll be doing the same. x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent advice, Jacqui! I try to do an initial image, then incremental backups. I lost some work, though, so I end up being kind of OCD aout backups. I use GoodSync to back up to my online cloud drive, as well as an SD card. Yeah, a little overkill 😀

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacqui, I know I should be doing these things. I know I’m running a big risk of having everything I’ve done vanish into thin air. But I’m on a fixed income and my budget won’t handle anymore. On top of the financial issues, I’m techy-challenged. I do, however, use three cloud services in hopes my work relatively safe from disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of this is low-cost but I get the techie challenged. I’m futzing around with my teacher blog and decided instead of stumbling through the tech-mines, I’d hire someone. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Keep up the great writing Jacquie. Thank you for your support of the very first com unity public I. He A ongo man of Tonga in the South Pacific Islands. Merry Christmas from Aotearoa New Zealand. NGA Mihi Nui ATU. Kahoa & Brendan ( founders of the very first digital Commjunity public lbrary – Kolovai Community Public Library Tonga Island xx

    Liked by 1 person

      • I still have plenty to catch up on, but I’m determined to get most of these crucial tasks checked off my to-do-list. I’m exporting my blog regularly, email myself any projects I’m working on as they are updated, back up folders to cruzer blade…. BUT, now that I have a new computer, I’ve got to get busy ‘learning’ a lot of new tech before I load up my files. I’ve downloaded One-Drive on old computer–must figure out how to load folders and files, while keeping them on my computer… My head is spinning–I really MUST take a vacation so I can get caught up on the work. 🙂 Thanks again for all of your awesome tips, reminders and resources. You rock!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks, Jacqui. A very “preppy” sort of post as regards tech. Prepare for a computer collapse because really, the consequences of lack of preparation are too dismal to contemplate. We lost an entire year of business records once. That was just awful. Feeling dumb on top of it isn’t fun. Thanks for the reminder. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Living in California (where they’ve decided cutting off electricity is simply part of our lives now), I have a big backup power supply. It would get me through 1-2 days, nothing more. I’ve actually looked into a generator but couldn’t pick one that seemed reliable.


  7. The “second best” thing I did with regard to backing up my computer was to buy an external hard drive that holds a huge amount of data. The “first best” thing I did was to put the contents of my computer on it. The ongoing good thing I do is to continue to update it. I should have done all this years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Jacqui – I’m just about to save all your recommendations and then I can some time looking at them, and if necessary following your suggestions – thanks for keeping us ‘in trim’ … I need that for next year in another context! Cheers and have a happy festive time – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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