The potential for losing computer-based data is increasing rapidly, so take extra steps to protect your files from loss or corruption.
If you do much work on a computer, you know that along with convenience comes the risk of losing data due to a variety of problems. Power outages, equipment failures, down time, and hackers, along with viruses, can send all your hard work spiraling down the cyberspace drain.
Don't wait for the next accident of fate to catch you unprepared. Take the necessary steps to protect your work and keep it safe from disaster.
1. Back up your word processing documents frequently. Some experts recommend doing this every thirty minutes or so, while others say every hour or two is adequate. Depending on how much you use the Internet, you may want to back up your work by clicking "save" rather frequently; better safe than sorry. This is especially true if the document is lengthy or important. Don't take a chance on losing hours of your valuable time. 2. Store your files on reliable disks. Some disks that you purchase from the store may be unformatted, or they may not work for one reason or another. When you get them home, try several to see if they will hold the data that you try to save to them. If they don't, return them to the purchase site for an exchange or a refund. Don't wait to try your disks when you need them, as they may not work for you. 3. Use both the hard drive and a disk. Don't depend on a single storage site for saving your work. Either might fail at some point, and you would have nothing to show for it. Save both on the hard drive and on a disk. Label the disk clearly and right away to avoid later confusion. Store your disks in a dust-free environment, preferably with a cover, to keep them intact and easy to use when the time comes. 4. Print a hard copy. In addition to the hard drive and a disk copy, print out a tangible copy of the document or file contents. Keep it in a safe place that you have designated for that purpose. It doesn't help to save something in print form when you don't know where to find it when needed. Label files clearly and create an organized filing system to help you find needed copies later. 5. Maintain your computer equipment and programs. Find out how to clean your machine about once a year. Better yet, hire an expert to do it for you. This might include the keyboard and monitor as well as the interior mother board and computer chip. Cords and auxiliary linkages, like a computer, should also be kept in quality operating condition to reduce the risk of malfunction or breakage. 6. Install reliable anti-virus programs. McAfee and other programs can detect and remove dangerous viruses from your computer. Scan all programs and emails that you are uncertain of to remove any possible threat of contamination and data loss. Have this function checked when you take in your computer for annual maintenance. Protect your data in these and other ways so you don't end up losing hours of hard work.
There are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes on furniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients in commercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, these ingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification. These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) and you have no way of knowing in advance.
Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; and semisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks:
AEROSOLS (Spray Polishes): Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders in introducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, they may contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the "dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the piece of furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust cloth.
LIQUIDS: Like aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms of commercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and "oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organic solvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. These products can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on the surface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries. Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto the furniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprays on the furniture surface.
Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oil polishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes, colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasing surfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oils used as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.
- Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil with colorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but even so some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airborne contaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oils don't undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.
- Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a different matter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reaction with the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasingly difficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish, but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that is difficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem. Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acids they are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaque black.
- Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil, turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in the museum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thick incrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durable nor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coating that is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.
SEMISOLIDS: By virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to wooden objects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a very concentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not include undesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of damaging organic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are an excellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes are exceedingly stable and don't cause many of the problems inherent in the previously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furniture conservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But paste waxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contact with the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for proper application. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, the better quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the results and benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort. Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needs to be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishing should be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavy wear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table and chair legs, cabinets, and similar areas. If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxed surface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coat of wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax that is applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightly surface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the new wax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simply integrate the old into the new.
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