What Data Files to Backup on Your Computer

I have written many posts regarding backing up data on your computer. There are many methods that you can use to backup your data, such as CD/DVDs, external hard drives, USB flash drives, or an online data backup service. With so many options it is important to regularily backup your data.

The question many of you may ask is what should you backup? With a lot of data being stored on your hard drive, it could be hard to determine what data files to backup. In this post I will provide a simple list you can use to help narrow down the files you should remember to backup.

Which Data Files?


With the size of hard drives today, it is very easy to have thousands of files and gigabytes of data stored on your local hard drive. The problem is many people don’t think about making backup copies of this data. Determining what needs to be backed up and what doesn’t can be a daunting task.

I try to be vigilant with backing up my data files, but I may accidently overlook a few. To ensure I backup all my data files I have put together a list of important files.

  • Digital photos. You probably wont’ be able to retake the pictures, so you should ensure you back them up.
  • Personal or purchased video files. For reasons similar to the digital photos, you probably will want to back up any personal videos. For purchased videos, you may not want to redownload them again, so it may be easier to back them up as well.
  • E-mail address books. Unless you want to re-type all your e-mail addresses, ou should back this file up.
  • Any music that you have purchased. If you don’t want to re-download all your puchased music, I suggest you add this to the list of data files to backup.
  • Any applications that you have purchased. Some applications could be several hundred megabytes or larger, so you may not want to spend the time to download them again. Also, don’t forget to backup any serial/registration keys for the applications.
  • Your web browser bookmarks. This will save you time for remembering which web sites you have bookmarked.
  • Any financial records and information. This is important, especially if you own a business. For extra security, you can look into password protecting the backup files or, better yet, encrypting them.
  • Personal projects, such as applications or web sites. For those web site or blog owners, or application developers, nothing hurts more than losing your new creations because you didn’t backup your projects.
  • Saved files from video games. If you play a lot of games, and don’t want to start over on all of them, I suggest you backup the saved files.

By no means is this a complete list, and there may be other data files you deem important to backup. If there is a specific type of file you would backup, I’d like to hear about it.

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