Backing Up Your Data

February 15th, 2005 by Adam

Imagine that you come to work, start up your computer, it emits a strange whirring sound and gives you some nebulous screen message indicating ‘disk failure.’ You call x2929 and emit your own strange whirring sound. ITS arrives, takes your computer to the shop to assess the problem and a short while later, they call you and break the news: your hard drive is fried (high tech jargon). “We can replace your hard drive within a day. Then we’ll get your backup data and restore it to the new drive.”

Your breathing gets shallow and heart starts to pound. You remember someone telling you about backing up your data, but you never had the time.

Wanna get away…?

Computer hard drives are much more reliable today. In the event of disk failures, fee-based services can sometimes restore data lost data. Nonetheless, every so often, we have to break the news to someone that their data is lost.

ITS provides several options for backing up your data. Most computers now come with writable CD drives that allow you to back your files up to CDs. Additionally, every faculty and staff member has 240 megabytes of space on an M-drive set up exclusively for you. Data on those M-drives is backed up nightly. Additionally, documents in WebCT, department shared drives and web pages are all backed up on central servers.

However, for any data that resides on your computer, it is up to YOU to initiate the backups. For most of you (Windows users), that means the documents in your ‘My Documents’ folder. The frequency of your backups should be guided by the value of your work. If you’re writing a dissertation or a tome on the meteorological phenomena on Saturn, might we suggest the daily backup? If many of your documents are written and posted to WebCT, you might be fine with a weekly or even a monthly backup.

Some of you keep online calendars in myPlymouth and/or Outlook, either for yourself or for administrators. While they may be backed up routinely by ITS, if those schedules are important enough it is advisable to print and store a hard copy at the end of every month. Low tech, yes, but just as reliable.

Finally, it might be helpful to develop a backup strategy around your most important documents. While few of us want to admit this, much of the material on our hard drives may not be all that important. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to back it up. Do you really need drafts 1-8 of that proposal from 1994? Actually, do you need the proposal?

Don’t be caught by complacency. It’s your data, protect it from loss.

If you’d like to discuss backup strategies, call the Help Desk at 2929 to arrange a consultation with a member of the Desktop Support Group.