We can learn from others’ misery. Please learn from mine. My desktop computer recently crashed. The hard drive was corrupted, and no files were accessible. Luckily, I wasn’t left in the Dark Ages because I happen to have a laptop, which I mostly use for webcam meetings and lessons. The sad news is that I hadn’t been good about keeping current back-up files on either the laptop or my portable hard drive. That meant that work done in late April and early May were sent into the Black Hole of lost data.
Ironically, upstairs in a bedroom closet I still have many paper files from my earlier days of teaching and materials writing, in other words, information that is not as valuable as the information I recently lost. Short of a house fire, nothing threatens these files, so they remain safe and in tact (though a little dusty). I wish I could say the same of my digital information. However, I have no regrets about going digital and significantly reducing my professional paper trail. I can’t imagine the volume of paper needed to print out everything work-related that I wrote over the past 5 or so years.
Nevertheless, I’m forced to remember that there is a smart way to go green. Teachers produce large quantities of writing, from lesson plans to weekly reports. How should we stay green, stay digital, but ensure we won’t suffer even if our main computer does? My advice:
- Consider multiple storage places: a second computer, an external hard drive, or an online storage site, such as Carbonite. Portable hard drives are small and convenient to carry from home to work, but some larger ones are designed to sync files, that is, save files automatically on your computer and the external hard drive. Portable hard drives can also work this way, but you need to install software to make it happen. (Thank you to the Best Buy sales rep for explaining this to me!)
- Consider composing drafts of e-mail messages if in the end that’s the form a document will take. The drafts are saved online and then are accessible from any computer. This is advisable for weekly reports, monthly reports, or any message that’s composed in stages. The same is true of blog posts.
- Consider forms of file sharing. If some files are not private and can be of use to others, they may have a place on a wiki or virtual office. You may experience chaos in your real office if your computer crashes, but your information will not disappear from your virtual workspace.
- Remember that videos can be uploaded and kept private. Video hosting sites, such as Vimeo and YouTube can store videos you’re not ready to make public. Use the privacy settings to keep files from public view, but use your account to store videos that will eventually be shared.
- Consider keeping and using a flash drive. *Sigh.* I have one on my key chain. Have I used it the past two months? No. I’ll start using it again. This mini storage device is good for the most important documents you’re working on at the moment.
Know any good tech tips? Please share.