There are tons of great applications and tools to help protect your PC from disastrous operating system failures, but I’d like to highlight one very simple way to protect your critical data in the event of a PC crash.  This solution won’t protect you from a hard drive failure — you’ll need other tools for that — but what we’re talking about here will make it significantly simpler to recover in the event something goes wrong with Windows.  There are similar techniques available for Mac OS, but in this post we’ll only be covering Windows.

Keep Your Information Separate

That’s the secret.  I suggest creating a partition on your hard drive to store your critical data.  The system files run in one place, and your information stays in another.  That way it’s much simpler to repair your system files or completely reinstall, while keeping your data files just the way you like them.  The full details of how to split your hard drive are included below.  If you’re using an older version of Windows, or want the convenience of a tool designed specifically for this purpose, I’ve included an affiliate link to EaseUS Partition Master Professional.  I’ve used this product dozens of times and it has been a really handy part of my tooklit.

Get Organized

One of the simplest parts of keeping your data safe is simply knowing where everything is.  We so often take for granted that the PC knows best what to do with our information, and that isn’t always the case.  Often the PC simply does what we tell it to do, and if we aren’t paying attention when it asks, then it’s like the blind leading the blind.

Once you know where all your information is, make life easy on yourself by redirecting your documents, pictures, and other often-used shortcuts to your new data locations.

That makes everything just as easy to find as it was before, but now everything is sectioned off into it’s own place.

Get Backups

Finally, make sure you use best practices and get regular backups of your data.  I like to use Dropbox because it is simple to use and is very feature-rich, but there are lots of great products available, including Crashplan, Mozy, and Carbonite to name a few.  Another really great way to accomplish this is to contract with your local Managed Services Provider for cloud backups.  For a few extra dollars a month you get the piece of mind and support that come with a professional support team.  I’m biased, but I really recommend JMARK Business Solutions.  They’re a great group of people who really know data protection.

 

How To Create a Data Partition In Windows 8.1 Step By Step

Before starting, it’s a good idea to back up all your information.  If the unlikely event anything goes wrong, you’re covered.  To make room for your data files, create some free space on your hard drive.  In Windows 8.1 that’s done by using the search feature and typing in “Disk.”  This feature can also be found in Computer Management.

Next, right click your C partition and click Shrink

Next, choose the size to make available for your data.  Be sure to leave a portion of your C drive unused so you have room for growth.

You will now have free space available, and that’s where we’ll make room for your data.

Follow the prompts to set up the new volume for data storage.

I like to rename the volume to indicate that it contains my data.

Finish by formatting the drive to make it ready to use.

Now you have a drive to hold your data

The hard work is done.  Now just move your data to the new volume.

Resources

EaseUS Partition Master Professional (affiliate link)

Dropbox

JMARK Business Solutions, Inc.

I hope you find this tutorial as evidence that keeping your data safe and secure is simple, fast, and smart.  If you have a comment or would like to know more information, please drop me a line in the comments section.

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