There are a few things you should do regularly to maintain your computer. Making security updates and running performance tools are two things, and backing up your files is another one. Windows Live OneCare, which I’ve been using for two months now, can be set up to automatically do all of these things. Last week OneCare got its first real test. On Monday, the hard disk on my computer crashed, essentially losing all the files I had saved on my computer. All the e-mail, pictures, financial documents, and spreadsheets I had saved were gone. It was my home computer, but I lost some documents from work that I had been working on from home.

For the first time I had a chance to test the back-up and restore capabilities of OneCare. I’m happy to say it passed. Except for the some changes I had made to a couple of files, I was up and running after I had repaired my computer.

With an external hard drive like the one I use, you can set up OneCare to do backups automatically with almost no intervention. (Backing up to CD or DVD isn’t automatic.) I have OneCare set up to make backups once a week.

Setting up OneCare to create a backup is pretty easy.

  1. On the first screen you see when you open OneCare, on the right side of OneCare, under Backup and Restore, click Back up files.
  2. OneCare will walk you through the setup process whether you’re going to save the files to a hard disk or removable storage, such as a CD or DVD.

Image of OneCare

And about the other important things (maintaining the performance and security of your computer)—OneCare can do computer tune-ups and scans to help keep spyware and viruses off your computer. Visit the OneCare site to learn more about it. I really do recommend it. For the moment, you can also try OneCare free for 90 days.

And in the meantime, don’t forget to back up your files. Here are some links that can help if you don’t have OneCare.

  1. Backup basics: What should you back up?
  2. How to back up manually or by using Windows XP Backup utility
  3. How to choose an external storage format for backup files

—Jason Kozleski