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How to back up your computer, for dummies

By Staff | Jun 28, 2012

People ask me all the time how to back up their pictures, music and documents. I’m gonna explain in a simple, easy way just how to do this using the XP operating system.

First, buy yourself a USB hard drive at OfficeMax. A 500-gigabyte or a one-terabyte only costs about $100.

Turn on your PC and plug the USB hard drive in. After awhile, a message appears on the lower right side of the task bar saying it found a hard drive, and it’s ready to use. Then a window should show up displaying the contents of the new hard drive. If not, right click on the Start button, choose Explore and scroll down to find the new hard drive. It could be called “drive e:” or “Seagate, Western Digital.”

Left click on it, and it instantly appears in its own window. Now, left click on the Start button and click on the My Computer icon. You will see drive c and all of its files. You now have two weird-shaped windows on the screen. Here is a neat trick to align the windows. Move the mouse to the bottom of the screen where the Start button is, but move it to the right about in the middle of the task bar, and right click. A menu opens up, so now choose “Tile Windows Vertical.” Presto! Two identical windows side-by-side.

Now the fun begins. One side shows the new external USB hard drive, and the other side shows drive c:, which is your computer’s hard drive. Place your mouse on the drive c side, scroll down to Documents and Settings and click on your account’s name (Big Jimbo, for example). Look for My Documents. Hold down the left mouse on the My Documents name and drag the whole folder over to the other window – which is the new USB hard drive – and release your finger. Whammo! The whole My Documents folder, which has your pictures, music and docs, is now backed up to your new hard drive. Easy.

Do you hate typing in long web page addresses like “www.microsoft.com.” Try this: just type in Microsoft.com and press the Control and Enter keys at the same time. It automatically inserts the “http://www.” for you.

Having a hard time seeing small letters on your website? Try clicking on View, then Zoom, and it will enlarge the text.

Hate Internet Explorer? Try downloading Firefox, and it will automatically install itself. Click on “Import from Internet Explorer,” and all your favorites will transfer over. Firefox is a better, faster browser.

Another great tip: is your computer running slow? Why pay a tekkie geek $100 an hour? Click on the Start button, click on Run, type in “Msconfig,” hit Enter, and a small screen pops up. Click on Startup on the top right corner, and a menu appears with all these boxes with check marks. These are background programs slowing you down. Click on Disable All and Apply, then close. Your computer will restart, and you will see a big difference in speed.

Send your computer-related questions to mauimist8669@yahoo.com.