Back dat .docx up…

When I was working on my Middle Eastern studies degree (thanks IS dept!) I used to be absolutely insane when working on a paper. It didn’t matter if it was a one page summary for a lab report or if it was a 15 page paper on Saudi Oil production, I would save it religiously. 

One copy on the desktop.
One copy in my Gmail account.
One copy in my dropbox.
and if it was really important,
another copy in my personal email account.
another copy on a USB drive.

I know, a bit excessive, but let’s just say I never had any missing assignments due to computer issues. I’m not recommending everyone go off the deep-end like I did but here’s some really easy tips to ensure that if Spotify or Facebook BSODs your computer and you forgot to save, you won’t be sad like the screen.

  1. Start backing your stuff up
    I’ve always been a bit of a gambler, but when it comes to course work, work work, things I would like to have forever, I don’t risk it. Having one copy of your thesis, or one copy of your once-in-a-lifetime study abroad photos is just bad news.
    Pros: You might have a chance.
    Cons:  You have no chance.
  2. Enable auto save
    Every program will handle this differently, however just to get you started here is how to set up Auto-Save in Office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). This will auto-save every so often (depending on settings) and make a temporary version/copy of the file which can be recovered following a crash/power outage.
    Pros:  Office will make a copy on your hard drive for auto-recovery.
    Cons:  None unless you set your autosave time to every minute, which might be a bit annoying.
  3. Buckeye Box
    I pity da foo who doesn’t use Buckeye Box. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but if you aren’t already using some sort of cloud storage (or even if you are) you should check out Buckeye Box. It accounts allows you to store, share files, and collaborate with fellow students and faculty. It syncs files from your desktop, laptop, mobile device, and the Buckeye Box website. For more information click here.
    Pros: 50GB! Versioning, Syncing, collabs! Oh my!
    Cons: You need to make plans for when you leave OSU as you might lose access; needs internet access unless you have sync set up on your laptop, etc.
  4. USB Drive
    Everyone should have a USB drive. There isn’t anything easier for transfering files from one computer to another. This works reguardless if you’re on your laptop at home, on the CABS, at Toos Under High, etc. They basically give these things away now, so you should have one or two in your bag when ever you might need it.
    Pros: Cheap, super portable, no Internet needed
    Cons: Make sure its FAT32 so that you can use it on your Mac Book Pro [Nerd alert: I know, Paragon NTFS, but it costs $20] and the library Windows machines; easy to lose
  5. Periodic computer backup
    With Windows 7+ and Time Machine on OSX handling backups extremely easily, with little leg work required, everyone should be backing up their files to an external device. There are a lot of cloud solutions available for this, but call me old fashioned when it comes to this. If my 60+ year old parents can manage to manually back up the Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP every month, then you can manage an automatic backup.
    Pros: Piece of mind knowing you likely won’t lose those important files.
    Cons: You have to buy a cloud based storage (monthly/yearly fee) or an external USB drive; initial set up.
The sad truth is that hardware fails. Hard drives especially. And without precautions you run the risk of losing everything on that drive. Hard core disk recovery via forensic tools, etc are always an option, but probably not on the budget of a student. However, every thing I’ve listed above is either free or relatively cheap.
If you want more information about this please visit the Buckeye Bar or give us an email at 8help@osu.edu and we can answer your questions.