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- Copies of each of applications that have been installed on computer. If your applications came on CD, then keep those in a safe place. If you downloaded applications, then store a copy on a writeable CD. In addition, you will need to keep copies of any patches or updates to these applications on writeable CDs.
I like to keep a box with all of above items in a safe place. I call box my "crash cart", as it contains everything that I need to restore my system to health in event of a software error.
In addition it's a good idea to keep following in crash cart:
- A sheet of paper with a list of people and companies you can call for help in event of disaster. This may include technical support numbers of computer manufacturer, operating system company and any applications providers.
- A log of all of changes and installations that were made to computer system. This will be invaluable to determine what to recover in what order.
- All of documentation that came with system in original box.
- Another sheet of paper with network information (TCP/IP addresses and such), modem settings and other control panel values. This will be important if you ever have to type it all back in. Some of most important information is any settings or values provided by your ISP which allow your computer to get on internet.
When you have a few spare minutes, when it is raining out and television is showing nothing good at all, when kids are in bed and husband or wife is asleep, when you are totally bored out of your mind ... then recover those manuals that came with system. You know which ones I'm talking about ... ones you have buried in your closet under five feet of clothes behind Christmas tree.
Now, open books and read them. They will usually have some instructions on how to recover your system in event of failure. This is information that you need to understand, and it's better to spend couple of hours up front reading than it is trying desperately to figure it out one evening - day before that term paper is due, of course.
And in worst case, if you have all or most of above items you will have materials that computer geek in house down street will need when you come begging for help at his door...
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