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For Seniors: Understand a Laptop's File Storage Options

You may want to save copies of your files somewhere other than your laptop’s hard drive. You might, for example, want to keep a copy of your work just in case you lose your laptop or the hard drive fails. Or, you may want to copy a file onto a DVD so you can hand it on to a friend to read or work on.

You have four main options for storing your files:

  • Utilize a USB stick: You can purchase a USB stick (also called a flash drive) to store your files on. These are about the dimensions of a couple of sticks of gum (designs vary — some are very tiny). You insert the stick into a USB port on your laptop. Then you can use File Explorer to copy files from your computer onto the USB stick.

  • Use a CD or DVD to store files, if your laptop has a CD/DVD slot: Some laptops, especially smaller ones like ultrabooks, don’t have a CD/DVD drive, but many laptops do. Slip a disc into your laptop just as you would a music CD or DVD, and copy files to it (see the next task for detailed steps).

  • Attach an external hard drive to your laptop: You can buy what amounts to a second hard drive and attach it to your laptop to store and retrieve files. This will run you around $50–$100, depending on the model and storage capacity.

  • Store files online: Today you can use an online service such as Windows SkyDrive or Dropbox to store your files online, usually for free. The handy thing about this option is that you can then easily access your files from anywhere without carrying a storage device. It’s also a great way to share files (for example, photos or a set of meeting minutes) with others.

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