Back it up!

There are few things worse than working hard on a paper or a project, spending hours researching and writing only to lose that work and not be able to retrieve it.  This can be just as frustrating when all your past work is lost because of a computer crash, lost flash drive, etc.   Backing up your files is increasingly important, but often it’s something you don’t consider until it’s too late.  Here are some strategies to make backing up easy.  Take a look.  Your future self will thank you.

Lifehacker did a feature on the various methods for recovering deleted files.  This is for those moments when you’ve deleted a file and you realize it right away.  Won’t work for every situtation, but when this happens, here are some helpful tips.

It’s now also possible to store your data and files “in the cloud.”  This allows you to keep all your important items on a remote server that really helps if you delete something on your own machine or if your laptop is stolen or otherwise damaged.  Some of these options allow you to schedule backups automatically, so your data is backed up without requiring you to remember to do so.  Mozy and Carbonite are two of the leaders in this area, but there are many providers, all with their own storage limits, features, strengths, weaknesses and pricing models.  Look to the comments about various providers in this blog post to get a sense of some of your options.

Lifehacker gives you step-by-step instructions for setting up automatic backups to an external hard drive.

Finally, Wired magazine provides a feature with several backup options for Windows PC users and Mac Users.

Have you found any backup strategies that are easy and effective?

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5 thoughts on “Back it up!”

  1. Duke account holders can use Webfiles – students get 5 GB of account space for backing up files for free, and it’s easy to get to – all you need is a web browser.

  2. Perhaps this is best answered by someone over at the Nicholas School or OIT, but is there a significant or quantifiable difference between storing data in the cloud versus on a disk drive when factoring environmental impact? How much additional energy does having always-on accessibility consume? Is there a difference in storing this information on Duke servers versus other online storage products? In short, can I be a responsible environmental steward by researching in the cloud?

  3. As you say, there may be people in OIT or the Nicholas school that have more insight than I do, but here are my thoughts.

    Any server-based data storage option will be comparable whether it’s on-site or off-site (Webfiles v. Mozy, for example). There could definitely be some variance in the relative efficiency of the servers at a given location, however.

    Could anyone else provide any ideas about energy use in server versus local storage methods?

  4. I like your approach, but I think you are looking at a problem of remote server backup software consolidation. This stems mainly from the fact that on large numbers of sources of backup (think students in a campus or road warriors in a company), having all resources in one place comes cheaper and greener (especially with today’s trends in storage virtualization), as long as you consider the cost and convenience of using broadband for backup acceptable. While local backup can definitely do some jobs well, it will not insure the same safeguarding of the data as backup to remote server does. So the conclusion is simple – more users sharing their backup infrastructure is more effective cost-wise and energy-wise as well.

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