The Best Data Backup Strategies for Students

From USB flash drives to cloud storage, there are so many ways to back up your data and ensure you don’t lose your hard-earned work. Don’t learn the hard way – make sure you have a solid backup solution in place!

In today’s data-centric world, backing up all of your precious files is so important. Typically, all of your data will be stored in one place – think music, films and photos. But these are mostly replaceable, albeit with a high cost, and perhaps with the exception of personal memories in the form of photos and videos. But if you’re a student at university or college, your computer or laptop will also contain all of your hard work – and there’s no price you can put on this. However careful you think you are, accidents can and do happen. Hard drives don’t have an unlimited lifespan and will eventually fail, but even before that point, a slight knock or bump can cause mechanical faults like motor failures and head crashes. Solid-state drives, while much more reliable, aren’t immune from damage either. There are also other issues you could face, like computer loss or theft, natural disasters, or plain old-fashioned human error. Our data recovery team see so many students – typically during assignment season – who haven’t backed up their work and have subsequently lost it. Very frequently, it’s days away from their submission deadline, and they won’t even find out if data recovery is possible until our team have examined their media. Should they start from scratch, if that’s even feasible at such a late stage? Or should they wait and see if they can get their data back? Are they even able to afford it? If this sounds stressful, don’t worry – it’s easily avoidable if you have a backup of your data. There are two main types of backup we’re going to discuss here: physical and cloud.

USB flash drives – also known as USB sticks or thumb drives – are a great way to save your work on-the-fly. In most cases, this is how students tend to back up their data, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re cheap, portable, and are an easy way to share documents and projects with others. However, their price and portability are also their downfall. Many USB flash drives are made with cheap and flimsy components, meaning they can become damaged incredibly easily, and their small size can also lead to them getting lost. Another potential downside is their storage capacity, although you can now get USB sticks with eye-watering capacities. Obviously, if you’re just saving small files, a standard USB flash drive will be fine. But for larger files like PDFs and videos, you’re going to use up the storage space pretty quickly. Portable or external hard drives are a step up, giving you a lot more storage space at a decent price. They will come in capacities that equal your computer or laptop’s internal storage, so you’ll be able to perform full backups of everything on your system. Alternatively, you might just want to backup particular files that are most important. The most fool proof physical backup strategy involves making two backups, and keeping one of the drives in a different location, protecting your data from natural disasters like floods, or fires.

The second option is cloud storage, now incredibly popular due to the advent of lower capacity solid-state drives in laptops. Cloud storage entails your data being stored remotely on servers and accessed via the Internet wherever there’s a connection. Many cloud storage services also allow multiple users to access the same data, great for collaborating on presentations and other projects. We’ve recently outlined some of the best cloud storage solutions, which include Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive. All three of these cloud storage services offer a free amount of data that you can store before committing to a subscription, so there’s no excuse!

Ultimately, we’d recommend you back up as often as you can, and to as many forms of media as you can. Get into the habit of regularly saving and backing up your data, even if it’s simply emailing it to yourself at the end of every day.

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