Tuesday, 1 March 2016

That sinking feeling...

The horror of losing your work can give you nightmares. Tamsyn Quormby and Pritpal Rehal tell you how to save safely and avoid that sinking feeling...

See ya later, alligator by Jason Mrachina
Used under a Creative Commons license
One of the most common problems that the IT Support team come across is people losing their work, or finding that their files have become corrupted.

Recently, a student came to us when she was unable to access the work stored on her USB stick. She'd been working for hours, and saving her files regularly, but when the thin client she was using was accidentally rebooted, the USB stick became corrupted. We used every trick in our armoury, but we weren't able to restore the files for her. She showed remarkable forbearance at receiving this news; a single tear, and a muttered curse. But it was desperately frustrating to know that if she'd been using the virtual desktop to save to her central filestore instead, the sudden reboot would have caused her no problems.

A single tear by Lauren C
Used under a Creative Commons license
Not everyone is able to be so sanguine in the face of lost work. Every member of our IT support team has had to console a student or member of staff in tears of distress and frustration when their work has been lost - this can happen when a USB stick becomes corrupted or lost, or when a laptop is stolen or irreparably damaged.

Our advice is simple and unchanging:

Don't rely on a USB stick as the main storage method for your work: Not only can the data easily become corrupted, but the device itself is also easy to lose or break.

Don't save the only copy of your work to the local drive of your computer. If work isn't backed up elsewhere, it will be lost if your computer is stolen or damaged.

Where to save your work

So, how should you save and back up your work? We recommend the following:

Central filestore

Every member of the University has a central filestore, their H: drive, with 2Gb of storage allocated to them. Your central filestore is regularly backed up and you can access it from pretty much any device (PC, Mac, Linux, mobile devices...) whether you're on or off campus:

Google Drive

Google Drive offers storage 'in the cloud' (hosted and backed up in multiple locations) that you can access via a web interface or an app wherever you are. As a member of the University of York, your Google Apps offers unlimited quota.

Lessons learned...

If you lose your work, always contact IT support for advice. We'll do our very best to help you. But to avoid disaster, keep your work safe by saving it to your central filestore or Google Drive.

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