It’s 11:00 p.m. You’ve been working for a month on a term paper that’s due tomorrow and it’s almost finished. Suddenly, the music you’ve been playing in the background starts screeching and your screen is filled with blue and white text. Doubt and panic set in. You restart and pray to the god of zeroes and ones that the computer starts working again. Fingers are crossed. Breath is held.
Nothing. Your computer crashed and decided to take your term paper with it.
Halloween is coming, but that’s not why I’m trying to scare you. Computers can be fixed, applications can be reinstalled, but the only picture you have of someone important can’t simply be retaken, and that term paper can’t easily be rewritten.
You need to start backing up your files.
Windows Vista and 7 have a built-in backup program that’s pretty easy to use. You can even create a schedule for it to automatically back up your files. Users of Windows XP have a built in program, but it’s not too user friendly. For XP users, the best option is an outside program such as Ace Backup or DeltaCopy—both available for free download. For Apple users, OS X has a program called Time Machine that will automatically back up your files to an external hard drive.
But the external hard-drive isn’t enough. You should have online storage too, such as Mozy or Carbonite. If you only back up to an external hard drive next to your computer and your apartment goes up in flames, your copies will go with it. But if you’ve backed up online too, you’ll still have your photos and term paper. Don’t let the evil blue screen ruin your semester. Start backing up now.
A version of this story originally appeared in The Muse, Memorial University’s student newspaper.