Poor Hattie Harl.
Hattie spent 10 years in the early 1900s doing research and writing about the history of my home town of Council Bluffs, Iowa, only to see all her work go up in smoke in a Dec. 3, 1925, fire at the Grand Hotel.
Fires. Floods. Theft. Carelessness. There are lots of ways that a person's hard work can be whisked away. In this computer age, you can add electronic glitches to the list. Regardless of how it happens, such a loss is infuriating.
Have any of these happened to you?:
- Your idle computer starts chattering away and won't let you access anything on its hard drive.
- While working away on your desktop, you're suddenly staring at the infamous "blue screen of death" while your operating system performs a "physical memory dump" in your stunned presence.
- After "upgrading" software, nothing seems to work as well as before.
- After de-fragmenting your hard drive, e-mail disappears from your Inbox.
If any of these sound familiar, you're not alone. They've all happened to me. That's why I take care to routinely back up my data files. Even that's not foolproof, but my diligence has saved me on more than one occasion.
Here's what I do.
Every day I save my work on a flash drive. I'm using those new ones that have software on the drive that allow me to easily synchronize my e-mail and data files. I use a separate drive for each computer. I've been warned that flash drives have high failure rates, so I don't rely on them completely.
Once a week, I back up my files on a CD. I've never had much luck with rewritables so I use CD-Rs. I keep the most recent copies in my office in case I need to salvage something (which occasionally occurs because of some boneheaded mistake I've made) while older files go off-site to a safe deposit box at a bank.
CDs are flaky, too. Once every month or so, I burn my files onto the same gold CDs that I use for my personal history clients. Besides giving them a copy at the conclusion of a project, I make an archive copy for the safe deposit box.
There are other ways to back up copy - separate hard drives, for example. The manner in which you save data is a personal matter, but it's important that you have some sort of system in place before one of those inevitable computer calamities hits you.