3 places to keep your data from being lost

Backup your data to avoid a notorious single point of failure - You can read almost weekly some new, heart-rending story about a years worth of data being lost when a dog chewed a thumb drive or a computer was stolen, or a budding author in New York losing his first novel when his computer is run over by a bus!

The first rule of data security is to always have your data in at least three separate physical places. Follow Brunt’s Axiom of Here, Near, and There:

  • Here - Here is wherever you are generating your content- be it a laptop or desktop computer, portable hard disk, or the Web.  Wherever Here is for you, it’s the place you store and manipulate your data and documents and it should be reliable and secure.
  • Near - If you have access to an institutional file server and procedures to store data and documents  - use them. You are doubling or perhaps tripling your protection depending on local practice.  If not, this is where a nice fat USB hard drive comes in handy.  Keep your Near data copies close and easily accessible.
  • There -  In the not too distant past, having copies of data There meant sending boxes of disks or tapes to your mother.  Internet Software companies now offer online storage solutions that are cheap, fast, reliable, and intuitive. These services basically all work the same providing a certain amount of online storage out There somewhere in the ‘cloud’ and give you access to it through the web and through a variety of desktop applications.

These approaches can be adapted for alternative computing and research lifestyles but always remember the rule of 3.

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