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Protecting Your Data During a Power Outage

You've been working on an important document-your doctoral thesis, a new musical composition, a financial projection-for several hours. Suddenly the screen goes blank and the room becomes dark. Amazingly, it's then that the proverbial light bulb blinks on above your head: "I should have saved that document!" If the power goes off, the computer's memory-including any changes to unsaved files-is erased.
The first way to protect your data is to back it up frequently:
Use your program's autosave feature if it has one. For example, you can configure Microsoft Word to save AutoRecover information every few minutes. (On the Tools menu, choose Options and then click the Save tab.) The next time you start Word (after the power comes back on), it opens your document with the last-saved AutoRecover information.
Get in the habit of saving frequently. In most programs, Ctrl+S is the keyboard shortcut for saving the current document. Press Ctrl+S every few minutes, whenever you get up from your desk, or even each time you pause to think about what to type next. This action should become so instinctive that you do it automatically.
Establish-and follow-a regular backup routine. Should the lights go dim and your files somehow become scrambled, you'll at least be able to restore the document as it existed at the time of your most recent backup. It beats starting over. For more information, see "Smart Backup Strategies."
Of course, these precautions defend against disasters other than power outages. For real protection against data loss in the event of a power outage, you need a UPS-an uninterruptible power supply. A UPS is essentially a battery backup system. When the lights go off, the battery kicks in to provide power. Most UPSs also provide some form of power conditioning, which reduces or eliminates surges, spikes, and brownouts (low voltage). Any of these conditions can damage electronic equipment as well as your data.

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