What Information Should You Be Protecting On Your Computer?

    By Mitz Pantic | Small Business

    You need to protect certain data from hackers and certain other data from computer problems which could destroy it. Although only you know your own circumstances, here is the data I recommend focusing on and how to protect it.

    Data To Save From Computer Problems

    Computer problems, like viruses or hard drive crashes, can wipe out any data stored on your computer unless you back it up first. Here is a list of categories of files you should backup:

    What Information Should You Be Protecting On Your Computer? image files to backupWhat Information Should You Be Protecting On Your Computer?

    • Original photos, movies, recordings and anything else which you can’t ever get back once lost.
    • Documents which will take hours to recreate if lost.
    • Accounting data. I once lost several years of accounting data and, even though I had most of my receipts, I couldn’t fully recreate my records because some receipts were too vague and some purchases I made in cash.
    • Custom configurations and settings. If you put a lot of time into getting something to work, back it up.
    • Downloaded installers and license keys for programs. Many companies which let you download software won’t let you download it again after 30 days.
    • Any media you purchased which you can’t download again, such as MP3s and videos from a one-time only download site.
    • Special drivers for your computer, especially if they’re hard to find.

    Data To Protect From Hackers

    Although most websites talk about hackers like they’re a bunch of villains hiding in an evil layer, the group of hackers who are the biggest threat to us are people we know—our children (if we’re parents), our parents (if we’re children), our exes, our co-workers, and other nosy and possibly dangerous people we know.

    Outside hackers break into your computer simply to steal financial information, passwords, and use your computer to break into other computers. The best thing you can do is try to avoid storing credit card numbers and unencrypted passwords on your computer.

    But to secure your data against amateur hackers requires a lot more work. For example, a parent may want to protect the password to the parental control software, but a smart kid will point the computer’s webcam at the keyboard and start a recording before the parent takes over the computer and types the password.

    A smart parent has lots of ways to break into their child’s private files. (In my experience, most kids know more about technology than their parents, but parents know much more about subtlety than their kids, so parents usually win.)

    The best way to protect your computer from amateur hackers is to use good divisions. If possible, give everyone their own computer. If that’s not possible, make sure everyone has their own account—and that nobody has administrator access unless they need it.

    Then follow good security protocols when you use your computer. Activate a locking screensaver when you walk away from your computer, change your password on a regular basis, and monitor for unauthorized use.

    Of course that may seem a bit extreme, which is why many websites prefer to only talk about external hacker threats to your files.

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