When Jeffrey Cohen, the chair of the English department, returned to his office after making some photocopies, what he found astonished him. His desk was arranged as usual, but there was a gaping hole where his laptop computer had been 30 minutes earlier. Also its chain lock cable was slashed.In the interest of accuracy, I must stress that no hole was in fact gaping. The fabric of the cosmos had not torn, and my laptop had not been sucked into the primal void. There was simply an empty space on my table where my MacBook Pro had been accustomed to reside.
At this time of academic insanity, when those of us who are graduate students are composing three seminar papers simultaneously and those of us who are further along in the profession are frantically struggling against deadline convergence (I myself have two articles, two reader's reports, an abstract and a book review due in the next two weeks) -- and most of us are grading exams and papers and attempting to assist our students in keeping it all together -- well, at this time when we are all generating quite a bit of data, I offer the following two suggestions for safeguarding the fruits (whether they be bananas or kumquats) of your scholarly labor:
- Get a program that automatically backs up your computer to a hard drive at least once a day, every day. Since I have a Mac, I upgraded to OS X.5, which includes a nifty program called Time Machine. The entire laptop backs up every hour at both work and home (I keep two external hard drives) ... and retains an earlier version of everything, should I ever want to return to a document after I've revised the vitality out of it.
- Since a backup that resides on a hard drive that you keep near your computer isn't much of a backup, pay the $4.95 monthly charge and sign up for Mozy. Over several days, their software program will back up the entire contents of your computer to Mozy's servers, where it is kept encrypted and secure. You can access your files anywhere, and after the initial backup (which takes forever) only new items are sent to the remote server.