Monday, September 30, 2013

Back Up Your Life: the Scholar's Go-Bag

Given some recent experience and stories I have heard, I realized once more the importance of backing up my files, contact lists, and other such valuables. Perhaps you know this, and do not need to be reminded. (I do need to be reminded.) But if not,...  [Note that what I am saying is minimal, and would be looked on with horror by experts.] (See also the newer post before this one.]

1. A USB thumb drive, say 8GB, is likely to be enough to hold all your current writing projects, a copy of your contact list, and any other significant files.  I know that you should have such backups in several places, formats, etc. But if you are not so perfect, at least once a month or two, back up what is important, even in one place. If there is important email, copy it too. Do not count on other servers to be available when you need them, even though their reliability may be very very high. My advice is based on the notion of a "go bag," the idea being that if the university and the servers disappeared, you would have on your person your most valuable stuff. In effect, institutions own your files, and could well discard them, so you want to have those files with you.

2. My Contact List on my smartphone (iPhone or Android devices), seems to have every address I have ever sent anything to (most of which I do not have in my formal address lists). I have the Exchange server as one of the email files, and somehow all is imported in. (I'm not sure what I did to make this happen.) There is a way to save Contact List to your PC or to the cloud or elsewhere. 

3. If you have stuff on the university drives, and much of your stuff may be there (eg Documents,...) be sure you have copies on your USB. If they are outdated by a month, that is better than not having copies. I am told that my c: drive has the stuff that is really on my office physical computer, and again, you want to be sure that any relevant files are on your USB. 

4. Your smartphone probably has enough memory to be another backup for your work files.

5. I have some digital files that add up to 100's of Gigabytes. I use an external hard drive, 500 GB, and also DVD's as storage. I suspect that those of with terrabytes of data have already implemented suitable backups.