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Data Module #6: Storage, Backup, & Security


Save...and save again!

You know that you should back up your files, your papers, your photographs, etc. You will want to back up the original data files (so you can retrace your steps) and your working files as well. Set up a schedule for backing up your data (e.g. once a day), or use an automatic backup system such as Google Drive. This will significantly reduce the risk of losing or having to redo your work.

Backup Methods

At Macalester, you have unlimited storage available in your Google Drive. This makes it easy to use as your backup strategy. Save your original data files to Google Drive. Since your working files change frequently, you might want to set up automatic syncing between your computer and Google, or do all your work online within Drive. If you work completely within Drive, you access your working files in the cloud, and all changes are immediate. If you choose the sync strategy, your working files remain on your computer, but sync a backup version in the cloud on Google Drive. With either of these methods, you can revert back to previous versions of your files.

You might choose other storage formats besides Google Drive. Here are some common methods for backing up your data:

  • Cloud services (e.g. Dropbox, Crashplan, Mozy, Backblaze, Carbonite, etc. Most of these involve subscription fees; some have size or file type limitations. )
  • External hard drive and software (e.g. Time Machine (OS X), Sync Toy(Win))
  • Burnable CDs and DVDs

Backup Strategy

For many projects, having your files (original and working) in Google Drive will be adequate. However, for large projects, or projects that extend beyond Macalester, you should consider following the 3-2-1 best practice method:

  • 3 copies of the data files
  • 2 storage formats (e.g. hard drive and cloud; hard drive and DVD; paper notes and a scan of the document)
  • 1 off-site location for one of the backup copies. This is to prevent catastrophic loss. For example, if your laptop is stolen (or the building burns down), you have a copy in a different physical location.