Early October this year, the computer of a PhD student at Upsala University (somewhere north of Stockholm) was stolen. In the hard disk was six years of blood, sweat and tears, or simply, research work. I was then meaning to blog about it, as I in fact saved that particular news clip from Upsala Nya Tidning:
It says, “Six Years of research disappeared when computer was stolen.” So it went that there was a break-in robbery in the institure where she was sitting and her computer, which she thought was too old to be taken, was stolen. She was to defend her thesis next year, but with all the research data, analyses and results gone, she was not sure if she’d still be able to do that. She was of course devastated and declared that she’d just perhaps quit her studies and be a cashier in some local supermarket.
Somehow I forgot about her story until I read in Sydsvenskan today about a master’s student in Lund University (this time in the south of Sweden) whose laptop was stolen from his apartment while he was away for the holiday break.
The headline says,”His computer is stolen, and five years of studies are gone.”
The poor guy is taking up industrial design studies and is just about to defend his master’s thesis. All his portfolio, photographs, digital materials and most importantly his project work done at NASA were gone.
My first reaction to these kind of news is naturally, sincere sympathy to these unfortunate individuals. I do really hope they get back at least those valuable data.
At the back of my head however lingers that accusing mind, wondering how on earth is it possible for these apparently smart people not to make a back up of those important files?
The guy in the latter case claims that he has an external hard disk, which is broken and of no use so he couldn’t save anything in it. (Hello? Of course, if it is broken, you won’t be able to save anything in it. Buy a new one!) The girl in the first news has a worse excuse in that she was claiming that her computer was so old no one would be interested in stealing it. Well, the thief proved her wrong! The amazing thing was that prior to the theft of her computer, the institute she belongs to already had two break-in robberies.
If you are a person working with digital files, and you’d rather not loose them no matter what, it is indeed common sense that you make back up copies of those files. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out, right? Sure, hindsight is always 20/20 but backing up files in the computer age is as obvious as flushing the toilet after shitting. Don’t tell me you don’t flush, huh?
Okay, to prove that I’m putting my money where my mouth is, I can tell you that all the research data contained in my work computer have at least three back ups.
One is in a dedicated back up server in a separate physical location where I work. The second is in my personal laptop. And the third is in an external hard disk. And I should add that never at any single time has ALL these units can be found in one place.
Aside from those back ups, I have DVD copies of extremely important files. Even my 2 Gb USB contains a number of Briefcase folders which are essentially back ups of files I’m currently working on.
Now call me paranoid but I’d rather not loose my precious data which in the future will give me the real Nobel Prize in Whatever! LOL!