Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Don’t Let Your Computer Eat Your Homework . . . Again!


“The dog ate my homework” has long been replaced by “my computer failed me” as the #1 excuse used by students who fail to have their coursework done on time. Of course, it’s more than just a lame excuse—it really does happen. Thus, many professors wisely display this disclaimer in or near their offices: “Lack of planning on your part will not constitute an emergency on my part.” Ouch. But we all know that even when technology does fail, there’s something we could have done to protect ourselves from losing all our valuable research, writing, design, or other project work. What can—and should—you do to be prepared?

1. Save, save, save, and save again!

First, make sure to manually save any document or file once you begin working on it. Name it in a way that makes sense to you, and place it in a file folder. (I’d recommend having a file folder for each class, per semester, at the very least. Perhaps you could save a shortcut to the current semester’s folder on your desktop.) Even if you have an auto-save function enabled, make sure to manually save your work regularly, especially after you’ve just input a lot of work into the project.

2. Back up your files!

This is definitely one of those times when you don’t want to be like most people: More than half of us fail to back up files regularly, and a surprising 32% of Americans back up their data only once per year, if that. When you’re investing hours in a huge project that will determine your grade for a semester-long class, you can’t afford to take risks. One way to back up your files is to use a thumb drive, also called a USB flash drive. These devices are available at discount prices, and they can attach conveniently to your keychain, lanyard, backpack, or other item that you tend to keep with you.
In addition, flash drives come in a wide variety of sizes, from 2GB to 64GB. As far as quality goes, one significant designation is speed; you should look for a device that has more than 3 Mb per second, in order to ensure that your drive has a lifespan of cycles long enough to save and delete many files.

3. Back up your files, again!

Saving your files in a second location is a good idea, but regularly backing up your entire computer is best. Because most of us are just plain forgetful, it’s best to sign up for a highly rated online backup service such as Crashplan and Mozy. If you’re Apple obsessed, then upgrade your iCloud backup to one of their larger fee based plans to ensure you have enough backup capacity. You can sign up for automatic backups that securely save your files online weekly, daily, or even more often than that. Some services will allow you to access all backed-up files from any mobile device.
In the world of technology, malfunctions are pretty much as constant as upgrades and new innovations. Plan for it, and you won’t have to grovel, hoping for mercy at the red-pen-wielding hands of your professors.


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