A neighbor of mine recently experienced one of the most painful events any of us might imagine whether in business, a student or researcher. She had been working on her Master’s Degree for the past several years and amassed quite a collection of research articles, papers, proposals and her work-in-progress dissertation. One day while she was away from home her apartment was robbed of many personal items including her laptop and personal computer. In addition, her backup drives were stolen which were in a bookshelf beside her computers. As a result, years of effort were tragically gone. But all of this could easily have been avoided and the recovery process extremely simple.
How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and your laptop and personal computer were gone and unrecoverable?
Even if you don’t experience a break-in, our computers have a limited lifespan and are destined to fail. So hopefully you’re convinced you can’t afford to wait another day before you have a strategy in place. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever. Below I’ll give you my strategic recommendations and please note that I don’t believe in relying on a single solution. I think at least three are necessary just in case one fails.
A Strategy For Protecting Your Data From Loss
- Setup a cloud-synch process that not only backs up the contents of your computers but it updates every change you make – as it occurs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’ve not backed in a week”. If you’re like me, changes, new documents, etc. are happening daily. I don’t want to have to take a second of extra time trying to recover lost files. Examples of this include: Google Drive and Box.net. Both of these have free options and give you at least 15GB of storage. This will easily take care of most document backup needs. If you have a lot of audio and video files, you’ll need more but those may things don’t need to put in the cloud. You can have an external backup drive strategy to archive those.
- Get an external drive. You can buy multi-TerraByte sized drives for under $100 that literally fit in your pocket. Most come with software that will automatically backup changes and remind you. Make this at least a weekly routine but adjust based on how much you are adding or changing. Collecting a lot of SPSS data? Back it up as soon as you get it. Using the incremental backup software will take care of the complexity of which files to save. Don’t get into the situation of trying to remember which files to copy. Let the intelligence of the software take care of it. On the MAC, TimeMachine will back up changes and let you restore from any point in your history.
- Implement the synch process on all of your systems. I use my laptop AND my desktop system at different times based on convenience. I also have another system in my office. In fact, the office system is a Windows PC and my home machines are MACOS. I have each of them setup with Google Drive so I can make changes or additions to my research on any machine and it will be instantly available from the other devices.
There are other options but these are the strategies and tools that I use. The key point here is to protect your research, your data and your livelihood.