• 3-minute read
  • 31st January 2017

How to Avoid a Computer Disaster (4 Tips on Backing Up Data)

Most college work is now written on computers, not by hand. There are many advantages to this, since you can edit work more easily on screen, and a printed paper is usually much easier to read.

However, one benefit of pens is that they rarely break and delete several hours of your work. Computers, meanwhile, can crash without warning (especially if you’re prone to spilling your coffee on your laptop). As such, we’ve got a few tips on backing up data to share.

1. Save Regularly

The first and most basic tip we can offer is to save your work regularly. One way to do this is to configure the auto-save options in your word processor to create a recovery file every few minutes. If your computer does crash, this should stop you from losing too much work.

You can’t rely on auto-save completely, though, so make sure to save manually as well.

Just hit "Ctrl" and "S." It's easy.
Just hit “Ctrl” and “S.” It’s that easy.

2. Using Multiple Saves

In fact, while you’re saving manually, make sure you have at least two copies of any file you’re currently working on. That way you’ll have a backup in case you accidentally overwrite one.

If you’re working on a longer document, like a thesis or dissertation, you might even want to save each new draft separately. This protects you against losing information, but also lets you compare different versions of a document during the editing process.

3. Backing Up Important Files

Most important of all is not putting all of your (electronic) eggs in one (computer) basket. In other words, create a backup of all the important information on your computer. This applies to personal stuff (photos, music, etc.) as well as your college work.

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This could be on an external hard drive, via a cloud service, or on other storage media (e.g. CDs or DVDs). That way, if your computer does break, you have a way of quickly restoring lost data.

Probably not a floppy disk, though, unless your computer is very, very old. (Photo: George Chernilevsky/wikimedia)
Probably not a floppy disk, though, unless your computer is very, very old.
(Photo: George Chernilevsky/wikimedia)

How often you back up data is up to you, but we’d suggest doing it at least once a month.

4. Data Recovery

Maybe you’ve found this blogpost because your computer has already crashed and won’t start again, so now you’re googling desperately for a solution. If so, we might have the answer.

Data recovery is the process of retrieving data from a hard drive. If it’s just a case of having deleted something by accident, there’s a good chance you can retrieve it with the right software.

But if the hard drive is damaged, recovering data is more difficult. Your college’s IT department might be able to help with this. If not, there are professional services that can. Data recovery can be expensive, though, so backing up your work before it comes to this is wise!

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