Caring for your laptop: Backup + upgrade

We mobile warriors subject our laptops to constant use and abuse (food stains anyone?).
Written by Lee Lup Yuen, Contributor

We mobile warriors subject our laptops to constant use and abuse (food stains anyone?). So we ought to take good care of our laptops to make sure they continue to run well, and prepare ourselves for some worst-case scenarios--when the machine is damaged, lost or stolen. Here are some tips on how to better deal with these unfortunate circumstances:

-- Upgrade your RAM: RAM is cheap, especially for older laptops. Bump up your laptop's RAM to the maximum it can handle. It's the most effective way to speed up your laptop.

-- Backup your hard disk: If you're running Windows Vista Business, Ultimate or Enterprise, use the built-in backup feature. On my Windows XP laptop, I use Norton Save & Restore to back up my hard disk to an external 500GB SATA hard disk. Large external hard disks are very affordable nowadays and they are ideal for fast backups. Remember to lock up your backup disks in a safe place, and use password encryption if the backup software supports this feature.

-- Upgrade your hard disk: I recently upgraded my laptop hard disk to an inexpensive 160GB hard disk with 8MB cache (the cache helps to improve disk access speed). I used Norton Save & Restore to copy the data from the old disk to the new disk and it worked painlessly, even through the new disk was bigger. After upgrading your hard disk, lock up your old hard disk in a safe place and keep it as a backup for your data.

-- Defragment your hard disk regularly: I use PerfectDisk because it has a useful offline mode that can defragment system files that are locked while your laptop is running.

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