HINT: It's not a flash drive.
A couple of years ago, we wrote about the perils of relying on your phone to store important information. All of that still holds.
As technology advances, some things stay the same.
Which is why we really should address the recurring drama that is, "I can't open my flash drive," or, "I lost my flash drive," followed by, "All of my research is on it. It is very important that I find it/fix it!"
It is always heartbreaking to have to tell a student that it's all gone. Gone. It is even more heartbreaking to know that this did not have to happen. All our academic lives, we are told to save our work as we go, in case something happens to the file or the computer freezes as we write that last paragraph. But save it where?
Rather than rely on computers and flash drives and (heaven forbid) phones to faithfully store hours, weeks, even months of work, we humbly recommend these alternatives, in order of their reliability, convenience and cost :
- Google Drive - As you work, your document is auto-saved. If your computer freezes up, or completely dies, gets stolen, or if the dog eats it, your work will be there when you log in from another device, including the freely available public access computers in the library. When you are finished, you can export it to MS Word or as a PDF, making compatibility issues nil.
- If you prefer a flash drive for more than temporary storage, even after reading about Google Drive, email the work to yourself, too. Even though you will have to do this every time you do further work on the project, at least you'll have your latest email if your flash drive gets crushed by the heel of the person walking behind you when you accidentally drop it. And since the email messages are dated, you'll know which one has the most recent save.
- If you insist on using a flash drive, use two. Save your work periodically to a second flash drive that is safely stored someplace reliable and that you will never carry out into a snow storm.
Speaking of a snow storm, here's a time lapse of the ONE we got this winter, taken from Logue Library. Enjoy.