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Backing Up Files

With frequent backups of your files and documents, you can avoid losing your work to computer accidents, viruses, or hardware failure. With a good set of backups, you can go to any other computer and resume your work if you have problems with your own computer.

Use a Clear File System Structure

Your documents will be easier to access and backup if you name them consistently and organize them into folders. Adopt a file system structure that works well for you. The common practice of placing all documents into the My Documents folder itself or littering them onto the Desktop makes finding files and backing up data more difficult.

To backup data, copy your files and documents, as well as your e-mail and any other settings or information you may need to CD's, DVD's, the Pantheon, or other reliable media. You should back up your documents often enough that, were your computer hard disk to fail, you would be able to re-create your work from your most recent set of backups. Student Computing recommends adopting a bimonthly backup schedule.


As a Yale student you receive file storage space on the Pantheon servers. This space is limited to 250 Megabytes (roughly the size of 174 floppies or one third the size of a CD) but it's the safest place to backup your most important files. Each night, the entire Pantheon is backed up to prevent data loss. Please see the section Accessing the Pantheon for information on how to connect to the Pantheon.

Burning CDs

Most new computers come with CD writers and software to burn backups of your files. Burning CDs is a cheap and reliable way of making backups.

To backup your files in Windows XP:

  1. Put a writeable CD (CD-R or CD-RW) in your CD-R/RW drive.
  2. Double-click on the CD icon in My Computer.
  3. Drag and drop your files and folders from My Documents to the CD window.
  4. Finally, click Write these files to CD to create the CD.

You can also use third-party CD burning solutions, such as Ahead's Nero 6 and Roxio's Easy CD & DVD Creator 6. On Windows operating systems prior to Windows XP you need to use a separate CD burning program to burn data to your discs.

To back up your files using MacOS X:

  1. Insert a writeable CD (CD-R or CD-RW) in your CD-R/RW drive.
  2. A window will pop up asking you what action to take. Choose Open Finder and give the CD a descriptive name.
  3. Drag files that you would like to back up to the CD icon on the desktop.
  4. To burn the CD, drag the icon to the Trash Can on the Dock. Click on the button that says Burn to burn the CD.

You can also use Roxio Toast 5 to burn CDs in MacOS X or MacOS 9.

If your computer does not have a CD writer, you can use the CD writers on the PC and Mac desktop publishing stations in the public and residential college clusters. For more information about cluster computer hardware and software, please visit