Many, many years ago when I was just getting started on using the Internet, and my ISP had switched to using PPP so we could use graphical web browsers instead of Lynx, I downloaded Netscape Navigator 0.9 for a bit of web surfing. In my roaming around I found various versions of Netscape: 0.9, 0.9a and 0.9b. To my “newbie” eye it was obvious that of these the one labelled with a “b” would be the best, as it was latest in the alphabet.
How wrong I was. The “b” meant it was “beta” software, still being developed and liable to be full of bugs and problems. It made no difference to me at the time as the web was so new anyway that even if the software didn’t work properly I wouldn’t have known the difference.
These days I knowingly and willingly use beta software. In fact, I’m always keen to try out new stuff and am happy to send my thoughts to the developer while doing so.
But, just in case you don’t know about different types of software, you should know that you can’t trust software which is still “in development”. Of course, any good developer is always developing the software, adding features, eliminating rough edges. From time to time though a developer calls a halt and says: “This version is as good as it can be. I’ll release this as version x.” Until that point though the software’s called alpha or beta and you can’t trust it. It may delete all your data, or cause crashes, mess up something else that works. When you get hold of software check the web page to be sure you’re using the most suitable version.
If you do use beta software (or heaven forbid! alpha software) then be sure to not only back up your important stuff, but to check that the backup works properly. And if your job depends on certain data then don’t use beta software for handling that data. There is really only one sure thing about using a computer: At some point you will lose data.
[See Backup Brain: Don’t depend on beta software.]