Love’s labour’s (and data) lost

This one goes out to all the kids who nearly failed that exam due to technical difficulties.

My sister and an exchange student staying with my folks both ran into this issue.  It was just before report hand in time and both suffered a major data loss.  My sister lost half of her 12 page report and the exchange student lost all of her French presentation. (Though since she was from France I think should should have just stood there and said ‘Volia!’)

Anyway here are two methods for the safekeeping of very important data.

Method #1: Email.
The email method is great but only works on files smaller then 10MB.  This is great for files that have lots of text and don’t contain video or a lot of pictures.

Start your document and save it on the computer under my documents.  Name it myreportname-date-time.  As you work on it, save it by clicking on the disk icon or pressing ctrl-s on your keyboard.  Now, every 30 minutes to 1 hour (set yourself a timer), make sure you go to Save As (under the File menu or under the odd windows bubble for Office 07).  Save it in my documents using the same formate (myreport-date-time).  The name will be different because it has a different date and/or time.  Now, email yourself the most recent copy.  You now have a back-up and you will loose at most the 30 minutes to 1 hour since your last backup.  Your computer could just blow up and you sill have a recent copy of the report.  The report is also named very nicely so you can always tell which is the most recent.  When you are done with the report, make sure you save your last copy and email it to yourself.  You may want to name it myreport-final so you know it is the last one.  Once you have handed in the report to your teacher you may then (and ONLY then) delete all the other copies of your report.  Hang onto that final one just in case you need to go back to it.

Method 2: USB drive
This method is very similar to method 1 but uses a USB drive which can handle the larger files.  Create your presentation as normal and save it in my documents using the naming format my presentation-date-time.  Copy that file onto the USB drive.  As an extra safety precaution you may want to remove the drive from the computer after each save so in case the computer decides to bust into flames you already have the drive in your pocket.  Two things to note, do NOT remove the drive until you are sure it is done saving.  There should be some kind of light on the dive that lets you know when it is in use.  The second thing to note is I have never seen a computer burst into flames so this is not something you should be worrying about.  If your USB drive starts to run out of space, you can delete some of your older saves but I recommend keeping at least the last 3 saves on the drive.  If you find yourself running out of space before 3 saves I recommend picking up a larger USB drive.  Again you can name your last save as final and after you have complete your presentation you can go back and delete the older copies of the file.

I hope that helps students and others handling important documents.  I felt really bad that I wasn’t able to help out my sister and although it is too late to save her report, maybe the next one will be safe.