Has this ever happened to you? It’s 2:30 AM the morning before your English paper, worth 20% of your grade, is due. All of a sudden your computer goes to the dreaded “blue screen of death.” Your computer then tries to restart but cannot because the files are corrupt. So, the English paper that is due in five and a half hours is lost…or is it?

What should I backup?

When asking this question, check to see what disks you have that applications can be restored from, such as install disks and restore disks. If you have these disks, you should not need to create an additional backup.


  • Microsoft Office (with install disk)
  • Computer games (with install disks)
  • Operating System (with System Restore disk)

If you do not have the System Restore disk for your operating system, contact your computer’s manufacturer to determine how to either order them or create them.

Files to Backup

  • All School Assignments: English papers, programming projects, lab reports, etc.
  • E-mail: Any e-mail that is stored on your computer should be backed up
  • Address Book: Any contact information you have for family, friends and colleagues
  • Music Files: Any legally purchased music or ripped files from a CD you own
  • Pictures: Anything from your camera that you do not want to lose
  • Internet Bookmarks

How do I save my files?

External Hard Drive~$55 for a 1TBConvenientInitial Cost is higher than other methods
Recordable Disks (CD’s/DVD’s)~40 cents per CD or ~50 cents per DVDInexpensiveLength of time to backup, limited space, easily damaged
School NCSU DriveCost is included in tuitionConvenient, accessible from anywhere on campusOnly accessible on NCSU computer or via a file transfer system
DropboxFree up to 2GBConvenientLimited size
Internet StorageRanges depending on sizeConvenientMonthly or Yearly Cost
NCSU Google DriveFree up to 15GBConvenient, accessible via NCSU account anywhereLimited size

*Note: Remember to label everything with the contents and dates especially any disks that are used.

** Cost fluctuates over time and by vendor, costs are updated as Sept 2023.

No matter what method you use, make sure that you backup your computer or select files on a regular basis. Remember, none of the methods above are effective unless you use them regularly; files cannot be retrieved if they aren’t backed up. It is also a good idea to have multiple backups of truly important files, just in case. Keeping the backups in different locations helps reduce the risk of physical loss or damage to the backup.

The school K: drive is backed up nightly by the University’s system. If a file was saved yesterday and is deleted today, it can still be retrieved.