How not to lose all your work just before the deadline

Life ring reading "save me"A new academic year dawns.  You might be about to settle to record results, write a literature review or write up a project you have been working on.  Now would be a good time to talk about how not to lose all your work with hours to go until hand in time.

Every year we meet a steady stream of students arriving asking whether USB memory sticks they have lost have been handed in.  What is worrying is that quite often they claim the only copy of their dissertation was saved to the memory stick they have lost.  To save you this horror storyshare a few tips on how to keep your work safe.  Here are a few tips to ensure that your assignments or dissertation do not disappear days before hand-in!

Join the pursuit of happiness

Save to your N-drive – Back up your work regularly (at least once at the end of each session you spend working on something) to your N-drive.  Even from home, if you have set up the VPN on your computer, you can connect to your N-drive and back up a copy regularly wherever you are.  MyPort offers step-by-step guidance for connecting to your personal computer to your N-drive.

Save more than once – Save vital documents up to three separate places, including your University N-drive.   Saving the latest version of anything to your personal laptop, N-drive and Google Drive means it is very unlikely ever to be lost.  Lots of copies keep stuff safe!

Keep older versions – File corruption is a terrible thing.  Minimise its impact by keeping the last few versions of anything you are working on.  Change the filename you use by changing the version number to the end regularly (e.g. save the file as Intro1, then as Intro2, Intro3, and so on).  If your most recent version becomes unreadable, you still only lose the changes since you changed the filename.

Disconnect with care – Yanking a working memory stick out of a computer begs it to corrupt your files.  Always eject your USB by right-clicking on the USB icon in the bottom-right icon tray ejecting it.  Wait for the confirmation message telling you it is safe to remove your memory stick before pulling it out.  If you experience any problems, log off from the computer and then remove your memory stick.

Include a name tag – If you use removable media like memory sticks, include a Notepad or Word document called “This belongs to” and include your name and student number in the file so that the IT Helpers can email you if it is found and handed in.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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