Whenever I think of losing electronic data, I’m always reminded of this story about a graduate student who had her purse – containing a thumb drive with the only copy of her thesis data – stolen. The miraculous part of this story is that the determined and desperate grad student retraces the thief’s steps based on charges made to her credit cards, goes dumpster diving, and finds the purse with the thumb drive still in it.
I love a cosmic good luck story. Luck and dumpster diving are, however, horrible data back-up strategies. At this point in the semester, the work you’ve done (lectures, handouts, simulation directions, exam questions, essay prompts etc.) is starting to accumulate. Equally important, your students are starting to accumulate grades. It’s never too early to back all this up. I’m also of the school that there are never too many different secure places to have your data backed up. If you are TCU faculty and have your gradebook in LearningStudio, here is some documentation from the Koehler Center on exporting your LearningStudio gradebook. This is a wise thing to do before making any changes to your gradebook or to assignments that are linked to the gradebook, after entering grades, and at set intervals throughout the semester.
Where would you put your back-ups? For TCU student data, such as grades, keeping things within the TCU network is the safest option. You can use local space on your personal TCU computer and TCU network file space (the M: drive).
Items related to your own teaching and research are, of course, welcome on the M: drive as well. Note that network space there is limited – although you can request a quota increase if needed. We’ve also written about various data back-up solutions before, including Dropbox (note that this a stand-alone product, not to be confused with the electronic assignment submission tool of the same name that is found within LearningStudio course shells). This is a nice, short piece about Dropbox in educational contexts, and here are five specific ways you can use Dropbox.
I wanted to draw your attention to Dropbox in the context of this post on data back-up because Dropbox is currently giving away an extra 3GB of free storage for two years to anyone with a .edu address. There’s also a school-based incentive program in which the more people from your school that sign up and review the Get Started Guide, the more space all Dropbox users at your school earn. Here are the specific terms of that deal. Whether or not you’re interested in those incentives, the 3GB is there for the taking, even for existing Dropbox users. Here is the sign-up page.