Post Academic

Save Your Sanity by Backing Up Your Computer Files

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionAt work, one of my colleagues suffered a hard drive crash, and it’s going to be a while before she can access her files. In the Hamster World, an IT department can come to your rescue. But what do you do if you’re a grad student or an academic and you don’t have IT guys at your disposal?

It’s time to get in the habit of backing up your files regularly. The process is kind of like flossing. It seems tedious, but it can save you from losing your files, which is almost as horrific as a root canal.

I use Norton 360, which nudges me every so often and tells me that it’s time to back up my computer. Windows also has a Backup and Restore feature.

A backup won’t do much good if you aren’t backing your files up to a CD, DVD, or external hard drive. The external hard drive is your best bet. It might cost a little something, but it has plenty of room. All you need to do is connect the external hard drive to your computer via a USB cable, plug it in, turn it on, and launch the backup program.

If that seems unwieldy, consider saving your files in the cloud. Try opening a free Dropbox account at The Dropbox software creates a folder on your hard drive. By saving a file in that folder, it is automatically saved online, and you can fetch it when you need it. An even simpler alternative is Google Docs, although it has some space constraints and might not be the best fit for a dissertation-sized file.

A glimpse of the horror you will feel after a busted hard drive from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

2 Responses to 'Save Your Sanity by Backing Up Your Computer Files'

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  1. Februa said,

    I really support the idea of this article, and just wanted to add that you really should keep 2 backups to be safe if the data really cant be lost. I usually burn a DVD as well when doing a full backup to my external hard drive…and my computer makes a backup to the network once a week too. You can never be overly safe – a burned DVD backup can get scratched easier than the original hard drive can fail, and thats really a computer monitor smashing moment when you think you’ve saved yourself….

  2. You’re right. You can’t be too careful in that department. I admit that I keep only one full backup, but I make multiple backups of my big-league, super-important files. I also treat my backup drive very, very carefully!

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