A Useful Tip for Software

While I have always recommended storing copies of software installation media in a safe off-site location, that advice is becoming a little dated. I recently rebuilt my computer on new hardware and on a new operating system (Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, 64-bit). Once the operating system was up and running, the next task was to install all of the software that I use on a daily basis. Something is different now. I rarely use CD's and DVD's. I find myself downloading the software from the vendors' websites so that I will have the latest and greatest version. I usually need my license keys and sometimes some login credentials to the vendor's website.

I keep a paper file with copies of all of my receipts, license agreements, keys, serial numbers and anything else that I may need to prove I have a license and can install the software. I have come to the conclusion that this paper file is a vulnerability. If my office burns, my paper files burn. I can get a new computer and restore all of my data from my online backup service provider. While I have backup copies of my software media, I am more likely to download the latest versions. But, if my office is destroyed, so is a lot of information that I would want and need to get my software installed and up to date.

Now I scan my software license documentation into PDF files. I also have a spreadsheet with a list of my software, the vendor's website URL, my login credentials and my license keys. These files are automatically backed up off-site every time they change. This seems to be a much more effective and efficient way to ensure that my software will not be lost than actually making copies of the disks and physically taking them home with me (occasionally).

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