This was one of the exercises in our Boot Camp last week and we think everyone should know how to do it. We preach backup all the time, but we don’t preach a particular way to do it because there are so many choices. As long as you know that your important files are being duplicated somewhere outside of your computer, and you know how to get a file back if needed, then we’re happy. We don’t care how you do it.
If you don’t currently have some way to do backups, you need to know at least the very basic way of copying files. That is to use the copy command and then paste the file to an external location – the easiest being to a USB drive.
These little USB drives, aka ‘Thumb’ drives or ‘Travel’ drives are available at any electronics store for around $10. Actually, I’ve seen them at convenience stores they’re so popular now. Sometimes they’re even given away as advertising specialties. Jim has a Swiss Army Knive with a USB drive as one of the attachments! They act just like the disk drives in your computer in that they can hold computer files. You can copy computer files to them, delete files, rename files, and overwrite files. If you remember the old floppy disks – you get the idea.
So, if you have files on your computer – probably your C drive in My Documents – you can Copy them. Then, using My Computer, navigate to the USB Drive which you’ve plugged in to a USB port – it will probably show up as drive F: or G:. If you don’t know what drive letter it is, here’s a trick. With My Computer open – you should see your drive letters show up – unplug the USB drive. You’ll see one letter disappear from the screen. Plug it back in and you should see a letter appear. That’s it! Double-Click on it to open. Now you can Paste. The file(s) that you copied from your C drive will now be duplicated on your little thumb drive.
There are a variety of reasons to do this. Usually it’s because you want to give the file(s) to someone else. Just hand them the thumb drive and they can reverse the process: plug the thumb drive into their computer, find the files and copy them, open their C drive, find an appropriate folder and paste. We often copy files to a thumb drive in order to go to a copy center and get a document printed.