If your computer hard drive was damaged, lost or became corrupted by malware tomorrow, do you have copies of your files stored somewhere other than on your computer?   Do you have all of your files on one thumb drive?  Think about those papers, resumes, and documents you have spent hours, days, and even weeks working on.  Or those pictures and movies of friends, family, and places you have visited… without a copy stored somewhere else, those are things that cannot be replaced.

There are several methods you can use to ensure that you never lose your important files.  It doesn't matter how you do it, the most important thing is that you want keep copies of your important data in more than one place.  Here are some guidelines to follow:  

Choose what to Back-up

Applications and operating systems can be re-installed, so it is not always necessary to make copies of those.  Think about the files that have value to you, things that you would miss or that could not be replaced if they were lost or damaged. 

Make your digital “Filing Cabinet”

Start by creating a folder structure to put copies of the files that you want to have copies of.   Use folders for different subjects or file types so you can easily tell the size of each folder.   You may need to make copies of some folders more often than others if the files in them change often.  Here is an example of what your “Filing Cabinet” folder might look like: 

screenshot of computer files

Chose how to make copies of your files:

When you have your “Filing Cabinet” organized, you can start making some copies.  There are several ways to keep copies of your files.  You should use more than one method for things that are very important to you.

Cloud storage with OneDrive or Office365

  • Every student, faculty and staff member is provided an Office365 account which includes 1TB of cloud based storage for files.  This feature is called “OneDrive for Business”, and it is an easy and safe way to store files while you are attending classes here.  Storing copies of your files on your OneDrive protects them from corruption, loss or accidental deletion.  To access your OneDrive, go to the login page at the Microsoft Office365 website at https://login.microsoftonline.com and use your FLC email address as your login name.

  • OneDrive and Office365 offer great features that can be accessed anywhere you have an Internet connection.  You can create a sync folder that automatically keeps files between your PC and the OneDrive in sync.  It also has versioning which lets you select previous versions of a file.  Learn more about Office365 and OneDrive.


    • Faculty and staff please note that the FLC provided OneDrive is the only authorized Internet based storage for school related documents and files.  If you are an adjunct professor and will not be teaching for more than 120 days, please reach out to the Help Desk to ensure your account and files are not purged.

    • Students please note that files stored in your FLC provided OneDrive account will expire one year after your last active class. On most computer lab computers, your files saved to that lab computer will be deleted when you log out. Use a flash drive to back-up your files.

Image for OneDrive

Removable storage devices

  • The most popular types of removable storage are USB Flash Drives and portable hard drives.  Flash Drives (a.k.a. thumb drives) can store up to 128GB of data.  External or portable hard drives can store up to 8 TB or more.  

  • It is easy to copy files to these devices and they can store a lot of data. 

  • After you have copied your files over, you should safely eject the media from your system.

  • Ransomware can corrupt any data source that is attached to your PC or workstation so to keep your back-up copies safe, do not leave these devices permanently connected to your system.  

removable storage drive

Networked drives

  • Fort Lewis College provides faculty, staff and students with a personal network drive. This drive is automatically mapped when you login to a campus computer.  It will appear in the Windows file explorer menu as a network share with your username and labeled as “M:”.  

  • There is 2GB of space allocated for your account on this share, and files that you put on it are backed up automatically on a regular basis.  That means if you accidentally deleted a file, it could be restored. 

  • Faculty are provided with an additional drive labeled as “O:”.  For help with recovering or restoring files from your network drive, please contact the Help Desk.

Burn files to a CD or DVD

  • Most computers include a CD/DVD burner as part of their hardware.  If you have one of these, you can store up to 4.7 GB worth of files, music, and video on a single DVD. 

  • DVD’s are inexpensive and fairly easy to create.

  • They are resistant to water damage, but can be damaged if scratched or exposed to excessive heat.  Depending on how many files you have, you may need to burn more than one DVD, but this a good way to store back up copies of media and files that do not change over time.

Image of DVD disc