Sunday, 1 March 2009

Computer Tips

Have you ever lost a valuable file while working on your computer? I often get asked to help in such situations but sadly sometimes there's nothing I can do. So, to save you from digital doom, here are The Bishop's top tips for safe and happy computing.
Firstly, always have more than one copy of any important file or document. Always. Here's how:
1) As soon as you open your document and before you do anything else, use the Save As function to save a second copy of your document under a slightly different name. For example, "Prizewinning Novel - Version 13". That way you'll always have Versions 1 through 12 to go back to should the worst happen.
2) Buy a USB memory stick and keep copies of your documents on that. Then, if your computer dies or gets stolen you've still got your precious files. A word of warning though: only keep copies of your files on the USB stick - never edit the files on the stick directly as this can cause corruption if your system crashes. I've seen two cases of this in the past twelve months and on both occasions the important document was lost forever. You have been warned.
Secondly, get into the habit of saving:
3) Find out what the shortcut key sequence is in your editor/word processor (check the Help) and use it. For example, in Microsoft Word Alt+F then S will do a quick save without you even needing to touch the mouse. Whenever you pause for thought in your typing, do a save. Whenever you stop to pick up a reference book, save. Whenever you lift your mug to sip tea, answer the phone or glance out of the window, save. Get into the habit of saving; then if your computer crashes or the power goes off you'll only have a few minutes work to redo.
4) If your editor/word processor has an auto-save feature (check the Help), turn it on. Again, if something goes wrong you'll only have lost whatever you wrote since the last save.
Thirdly, keep your computer in good order. Install anti-virus protection, turn on your firewall and make sure you install critical patches and service packs. Defragment occasionally, don't let your hard drive fill up and don't install dodgy programs from the internet. Look after your system and it will be far less likely to let you down.
That's it; I hope those tips were useful. If you agree, disagree, have something to add or would like to share your personal disaster story, feel free to post a comment.


  1. Good stuff Bishop. I remember being almost paranoid about frequent saves while working on docs. This was due mostly to the instability of Windows. Now that Windows (XP and for the most part Vista) is stable I tend to forget to use your above procedure. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Good advice, i always save lots and lots of copies of my work the most i did was 178 for one project and i even backed them all up to CD as well i still have copies on my computer and i still back them up from time to time as well even though i haven't used the file in 3 years lol.
    An even quicker way to quick save is CTRL + S and in certain packages CTRL + SHITF + S is the Save As function if you want to save it under a differenet name but not on all.
    Ok God Bless

  3. Thanks for the comments guys!