Do you have any recommendations for me to save my work and decrease the chance of losing data (including papers, projects, and my Senior Comp)?
There are several options available to you to help ensure that your hard work will not be entirely lost if something unexpected happens (your computer hard drive crashes, your critical file unexpectedly becomes corrupt, or other problems).
Save Early, Save Often
You should save your file soon after creating it, and save your file frequently as you work on it. This will limit the amount of data that could be potentially lost if the computer crashes or there is a loss of power. If you don't save the file, the data cannot be recovered.
Watch Your Step
Make sure you know WHERE you are saving your file. If you're not sure where the file is saving to by default, use the File -> Save As option to select where the file should be saved. It is important to make sure the file is saving correctly, and that you are able to find the file you have been working on.
A common example of this problem is that individuals have downloaded e-mail attachments, started editing the attachments, saved their changes, and then have been unable to locate the files later. Downloaded attachments do not save back to your e-mail account.
Please note that the Windows computers in the computer clusters and classrooms on campus reset themselves back to our original software image after being restarted. Do not save files to the desktop or C: drive of those computers unless you are willing to risk the loss of your data. Save your files to your personal network drive or H: drive.
Name Your Files by Version
When you are working on an assignment over a period of more than one day, you should name your files to reflect what day you worked on them. This helps you in multiple ways - you always have a recent backup of your file, if your current version of the file becomes corrupt you can go back to the previous version and not have to start the assignment over, and you have a documented history of the assignment if it is a long-term project and a professor asks to see copies of your previous drafts for some reason.
This is best illustrated by an example:
Megan was working on a semester-long paper. She started writing the paper on January 17, 2011. When she saved the file for the first time to her computer's hard drive, she named the file longpaper011711.doc.
Megan worked on the paper again on February 3, 2011. When she opened the file, she immediately went to the File menu and selected Save as.... She saved the file as longpaper020311.doc and then worked on it for a while.
Megan returned to the paper on February 10, 2011. When she opened the file, she immediately went to the File menu and selected Save as.... She saved the file as longpaper021011.doc and then worked on it for a while. She eventually stopped working on it and took a break for a few hours. Later that night she wanted to edit the paper. When she opened the file, she immediately went to the File menu and selected Save as.... She saved the file as longpaper021011b.doc so she could see which version she worked on earlier in the day and which version she worked on in the evening.
Megan continued working on her paper throughout the semester. In April, Megan tried to open her most recent version of her paper, longpaper033111.doc and could not. The file for some unknown reason was corrupt - these things happen and always seem to happen at the worst possible moment. Because Megan was keeping previous versions of her paper and naming the files in a clear way, Megan was able to find and open the previous version, longpaper032911.doc. Instead of losing an entire semester of work, she had only lost a single revision's worth of work. It was still frustrating for Megan, but her situation could have been a lot worse.
Special note: File corruption can happen when you save to ANY media, including hard drives, network drives, flash drives, and CDs.
One of the best ways to save your files here at Saint Mary's College is to save them to your personal network drive (H:). All students receive 2GB of disk space on our network to save files to and/or host a web page. This space is accessible from any networked computer on campus, eliminating the need to physically carry your files across campus from computer to computer. This network space is also backed up by Information Technology every night, which makes it a secure place for important papers and other files.
If you are unable to save files to your network drive, you may have exceeded your network drive quota of 2GB. You will need to remove files from your network drive before you can save files to your network drive again. One suggestion is to archive the files on your network drive to a CD, external hard drive, or your personal computer's hard drive once a semester or year (depending on how many files you have on your network drive and how much space they take up).
To check your available quota on your network drive, please visit http://www.saintmarys.edu/account/
Send Yourself E-mail
Another way to save your file and have it go wherever you do is by sending it to yourself via e-mail. You can access your Saint Mary's e-mail account from anywhere in the world if you use your Saint Mary's Google Apps for Education account (https://webmail.saintmarys.edu).
You can either save the file by e-mailing it to yourself as an attachment, or you can copy and paste the text of a document into the body of an e-mail message you send to yourself. You can then access your file from any computer that has an Internet connection and a web browser.
Your Saint Mary's Google Apps for Education account has a quota of at least 30GB. If you have questions about your e-mail quota or other e-mail issues, please refer to the ResNet FAQ at http://www.saintmarys.edu/resnet/resnetfaq.
Keep More Than One Copy
A frequent complaint heard by students to Information Technology is that they lost their only copy of a major assignment. A good rule of thumb is "The more important the data, the more copies you should have on diverse media in different locations." (Steve Hideg, Integrated Technology Programmer/Analyst, Saint Mary's College)
Important files (especially Senior Comps and Education Portfolios) should always be stored in multiple locations. If you have a personal computer, you should save a copy on its hard drive. You should also save a copy on your network drive. You may choose to keep an additional copy on a flash drive or in cloud storage (mentioned below).
Do Not Use Floppies
Floppy disks are an unreliable and antiquated technology compared to network drives and flash drives. Floppy disks are easily breakable, and have a life expectancy of approximately six months of use. Please use other methods to save your data (CDs, hard drives, network drives, flash drives).
Back Up Your Computer On a Regular Basis
You can easily configure your computer to automatically back up your data - all you need is an external hard drive. You will need to remember to connect the external hard drive to your computer on a regular basis - it may be helpful to add a weekly reminder to your calendar to connect the external hard drive so you never lose more than a week's worth of data. (If you are working on a large/important project, you may wish to do backups daily.)
ResNet recommends the Western Digital brand of external hard disks, and they are available for purchase at the Shaheen Bookstore (and may be charged to your student account), Amazon.com, and Best Buy. You should purchase an external hard drive that is at least as large (in GBs) as your computer's hard drive, preferably larger.
A Walk in the Clouds
Services such as Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs - http://drive.google.com) and Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com) store your personal files "in the cloud" (on a server, rather than on a hard drive or flash drive). Files stored on these services allow you to easily share your files with others if you wish. Both work with Mac and Windows computers. Your Saint Mary's Google Apps for Education account includes Google Drive.
Google Drive advantages:
Last Modified September 26, 2013