Emergency Computer & Computer Software Preparation

If you had to leave your home (evacuate) at a moment’s notice for any reason i.e. fire, hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster, what about your valuable computer software programs, and files?

If your computer hard drive crashes or your computer is infected with a virus and you need to completely reformat or replace your hard drive, are you prepared?

If you purchase a new computer, laptop, or tablet and have to install everything from scratch including all the programs and important files you have saved, do you have everything you need at your fingertips?

In this post, I explain what I have done with all my computer programs and files. You have no idea how handy it is to have all your program discs and files on discs in one place when you need them even if you have an external backup drive. You can’t put your programs and all the information required to reinstall them on an external drive. You need the original discs. If you work with your computer a lot as I do, you never know when any of these things will occur.

Following this procedure will take a little time and effort, but trust me, it pays off. Take your time. It doesn’t have to be done in an hour or even a day.

If you don’t have a portable CD or DVD pouch carrier, purchase one. They are zippered, cloth 3-ring binders containing pages with compartments for each disc. They are fairly inexpensive, $17 to $20 for a binder that holds up to 48 discs. Be sure to purchase one that holds a minimum of 30 discs. (You may actually need two or more depending upon how many discs you have.)

  1. Gather all the discs that contain the installation program files for all the hardware on every computer you own i.e. modem, motherboard, Windows operating system, graphics boards, sound boards, DVD and/or CD drives, printers, mouse, scanners, cameras, etc. Sort them by category, i.e. graphics, hardware equipment, games, business software, personal software, etc.
  2. Regarding programs you downloaded, saved, and installed from the internet including updates to programs you have discs for, create a sub-directory on your hard drive under My Documents and name it Downloaded Programs. Copy all the downloaded setup or installation files for those programs to that directory. Hopefully you saved them. If not, try downloading them again. (You probably should anyway to be sure you have the more recent updated version.) When you have all of the setup or installation files located in that directory, burn (copy) them to Read/Writeable CD’s or DVD’s. (It may take more than one disc.) Be sure to include any programs you use when on the internet, i.e. your internet service provider connection program, browser software, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger, other chat programs, email programs, anti-spyware, anti-virus, etc.
  3. Sort all the CD’s or DVD’s by hardware installation programs and other software programs by category i.e. hardware installation, graphics-photographs, etc. Insert them in the disc pouch carrier. Include the disc(s) you created that contain the setup or installation files for programs you downloaded from the internet. I purchased a binder for each category then sorted the discs alphabetically inside the binder to make it easier to locate any particular disc I may need.
  4. Gather all the information you have for all of the program installation discs, i.e. Key ID numbers, Serial numbers, Product codes, passwords, etc.… all the information necessary to install or reinstall the programs if you should ever need to.
  5. Create information forms using a spreadsheet program. The square forms should be laid out 3″ by 3″ with six squares to a Page. Type in the following information: PROGRAM: VERSION #: #OF DISCS: PASSWORDS: KEYS OR CODES TO INSTALL: Put lines next to each item. Print the page and cut into squares. Now write in the information for each CD in the square and put that information form in the disc pouch over top of each CD/DVD it applies to. For the discs that contain multiple files or programs, complete a separate form with a list of those files/programs and any other information you will need. If you have more than one computer and have different brand names or model parts installed on different computers, write down what part it is, the model number, serial number and what computer the part is installed on. If you don’t know how to create the form in Excel or Word, write the information down on small pieces of paper.
  6. List all the downloaded programs you saved to a disc and put that list with the disc you created so you will know what is on that disc and the necessary installation information.
  7. Create a spreadsheet on your computer or write on a legal pad. List the names of all the installation discs and program discs along with all the necessary information you need for installation. Be sure to make notes that will be helpful during installation i.e. came with Windows XP or came with the modem. NOTE: some hardware installation discs also contain other programs on the same disc. List those programs and what disc they are on. Print the list and keep it with the pouch.
  8. You should also have an external backup drive so you can copy all your important files on a regular basis. If you don’t, a minimum of once a month (depending upon your computer usage) copy all the important files you have on your computer to Read/Write CD’s or DVD;s. (No need to make a list of all the files.) Put these discs in the pouch as well. Make note on a paper to keep in the pouch when the last date was that you copied files to the discs. ESPECIALLY do this if there is a hurricane warning and you only have a few days notice to get this done.

Now, if you have to evacuate or leave your home in an emergency situation for any reason you can just “grab” the pouch and your backup drive (if you have one) and go. You won’t have to worry about taking the entire computer with you. Even if you could take the computer i.e. laptop or a tablet, what about your program discs if something happens to your home and they are destroyed and you needed them for a new hard drive or computer in the future? If anything happens to your computer or the hard drive, you have all the necessary discs and information with which to install the programs and copy your files to another computer or hard drive.

Another suggestion, if you are inclined and have the time, go through all the programs you use, one at a time, list and type up all the preferences, defaults, user names, email log-ins you used and passwords. This will also save you hours of time and frustration because you probably won’t remember them all, should you ever need to reinstall everything on another computer, new or reformatted hard drive.

I hope you never need to reinstall but if use your computer on a daily basis as I do, sooner or later you will more than likely either have a serious enough problem to need to do a complete reinstall or you will want to upgrade to a newer more up-to-date computer or hard drive. Taking the time to do the steps above will save you valuable time and frustration. Be sure to keep the discs, installation information, and lists up-to-date each time you purchase a computer, new hardware, program, or upgrade.

If you purchase a new computer that comes with hardware installed, save those discs with all the installation information. Do the same if you change a hardware part i.e. a printer, modem or graphics board and no longer have the old part. To avoid confusion, discard discs for computers or hardware parts you no longer have.

There are special programs that will allow you to completely copy everything from one hard drive to another, but only if you know for certain there are no problems with the old drive depending upon how old it is. There could even be some hard drive compatibility issues. If there are problems with the old drive and you do a copy, you could be copying the problems too so most computer techs will probably tell you it’s best to do a fresh install. You wouldn’t even be able to do this if your hard drive is totally corrupted or something happens to your home and your computer is gone so please think about taking the time to do these steps. It may take a little time at first, but the benefits, convenience and time you will save later will by far outweigh the time it takes now. Do it now while there is no emergency. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

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Thanks for taking time from your busy day to stop by. I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently. If you have a question regarding dictation transcription, how to run your own secretarial service from home, or if you have a topic you would like me to cover, let me know in the Leave a Reply section below.

If you’re a mystery-suspense novel fan, be sure to stop by this site and browse the pages for my various books. I’ll be posting excerpts from some of my books.

Bookmark this site and check back regularly for more valuable tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts as well as articles on specific topics regarding transcription work and working at home as well as updates on my novels. The Schedule of Future Postings page will be periodically updated.

Thanks again for stoppin’ by.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

7 thoughts on “Emergency Computer & Computer Software Preparation”

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Please leave me your comments. If you have a suggestion or a question, I'll get back to you soon. Thank you for you interest. Gail