I am electronic-calendar dependent. I can no longer rely on my memory to keep track of appointments, meetings, and publishing deadlines. Instead, I depend on Microsoft Outlook and the symbiotic relationship I have set up with Google Calendar to keep me up to date and on time.

Some TechRepublic members are using Windows Calendar (Figure A), which is an application included with Microsoft Windows Vista. This application is similar to the calendar program in Outlook, and it does a fine job of tracking appointments and monitoring tasks — only minus the initial cost of buying Office.

Figure A

Windows Calendar

But TechRepublic reader Powerhouse-13 wants to know how you can back up this very important calendar data. Paper calendars and task lists don’t fail as easily or as completely as electronic versions do, and Powerhouse-13 wants to ensure that the entered data does not get lost.
The answer is almost surprisingly simple. With Windows Calendar open, click File | Export to reach the export dialog box (Figure B).

Figure B

Windows Calendar Export screen

Notice the Save as Type box is showing Calendar Files (*.ics). That is a standard file type for calendar data. Save that file to an external drive, USB flash, CD-ROM, or any media or location that you desire. As a standard file type, that file can be imported to another version of Windows Calendar, Outlook, Google, Yahoo, or most any other calendaring application.

A caveat

One thing to keep in mind — that *.ics file is a snapshot of your calendar at that particular moment. It will not reflect changes made after its creation. If you are really concerned about keeping a timely backup of your calendar, you will have to create a back-up file often.

One other way to keep your calendar and task lists updated is by synchronizing your data with a mobile device like a PDA or smart phone. I recently started using a T-Mobile Dash, so now I carry my calendar around with me and keep it up to date every evening. I also have my calendar synchronized with Google Calendar, so I can access it from any Web-accessible PC or device.

With all these connections and synchronized calendars, it has become very difficult for me to claim faulty memory as an excuse for a missed deadline. My life is slightly more organized, and the data is secured by redundancy across several devices and applications.