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Our recommended devices for backing-up and/or archiving your files keep changing as new options emerge to accommodate the growing complexity and size of typical user files.

If you routinely store your files on your own hard drive (C:), you should always keep backup copies of your important files on an alternate storage device in case your hard drive should fail.

However, archiving files is important even if you routinely store your files on a Smith network drive (H: or P:), which is backed up every night by ITS. Since network storage space is at a premium, it is important to routinely delete unused files, or archive them on an alternative storage device.

Below is a brief description of several common types of portable storage devices:

  • Floppy Disks: Very few computers still have floppy disk drives, so we do not recommend using floppies to store your data.

  • Zip Drives: Very few users still own a portable Zip drive, so we do not recommend using Zip disks to store your data.

  • CD Drives: Virtually all new computers include a built-in compact disc (CD) drive that allows you to create ("burn") your own CD data discs. CDs can provide 185 to 700 MB of storage space, enough to fit almost everyone's backup and archiving needs. You can use CDs to save smaller files such as memos, letters, and reports, as well as larger files such as PowerPoint presentations, streaming videos, CAD files, and music. CDs are inexpensive and can be carried anywhere.

    Data CDs may be either read-only (CD-R) or read-write (CD-RW). A CD-R can be burned only once, which makes it perfect for backing up information you don't want to lose. Files on a CD-RW can be rewritten, which makes this type of CD better for storing files that are not yet finalized.

    For information about using Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 to copy files to a CD, click here.

  • Jump Drives: USB (Universal Serial Bus) jump drives (also called "flash drives" or "thumb drives") are about the size of a pack of gum and come with varying amounts of storage space.  They are highly portable and inexpensive, although the greater the storage space, the higher the price.  Jump drives do not need to be formatted, and work on both PC and Mac computers.

    For more information about working with a jump drive, click here.

  • DVD Drives: Newer computers may come with a DVD-RW (digital video disk, readable and writeable) drive. You can use a DVD-RW drive to store very large amounts of data (4.7 to 17 GB) on a single DVD, and can share these files with other users who have a DVD drive.

If you have questions about which type of storage device may be best for you, please contact the User Support Center at x4487.

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Copyright © 2015 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall   |  Northampton, MA 01063
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 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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