Backup for College Kids

So, I’m sending my firstborn to college next month. Well, band camp, then college:D, and I’m full of questions

Today’s topic: how to implement backups. External hard drive, or online.

Forget pictures and fluff. I’m thinking papers, projects, reports and the like. Just the facts, ya know?

Heck, a year’s worth of those would probably fit on an 8 gig flash drive, wouldn’t it?
My thoughts so far:
External HD pros: handy, easy, buy once and done. $100 for 1TB.

               cons: failure, loss, over there when you need it here, have to keep up     with it.

Online pros: access from anywhere, no limit to space

       cons: cost.  starts at about $100/year, requires internet access which **could **be dead just when you need to print a psych report for a 9am class.

What say you, college nerds?

And don’t say both!:smack:

Why not just an 8GB flash drive? Portable and cheap and way more space than any college student will need for just papers and reports.

EDIT: Or what the OP said. :stuck_out_tongue:

Online. Free services will suffice for school projects. I use Dropbox, you get 5 gigs free storage, and it automatically backs up old versions of your files. There are other competitors out there, Google recently launched Drive which also gives you 5 gigs free.

It’s more than enough for an entire undergraduate career. I think I burned all of mine on a CD not too long ago. Now, my dropbox has a year’s worth of grad school files, and three years of my work as a research technician. And I’m not going to fill it any time soon.

Also, Dropbox automatically syncs between their servers and your PC. So if you don’t have internet access, you can still get your files. Or if you drop your laptop right before that 9 am deadline, you can still get your files on any other computer/smartphone/tablet.

Google Drive is free and an 8 GB USB drive is about $3. The much more important thing is getting him/her to remember to actually do a backup.

I suggest something like Dropbox: Free. Works continuously without hassle. Accessible anywhere.

Now, that doesn’t mean that a paid online backup service or a big harddrive with weekly backups isn’t also a good idea - the Dropbox will be able to save papers and stuff, but the photos that they will surely amass and music are also worth saving.

My nephew is starting college this fall. I helped him to set up a Google Drive account and encouraged him to keep his stuff there. Five gigabytes isn’t enough for a big collection of music or movies, but it should be enough for his papers and other schoolwork.

I always tell my students to use Dropbox and a flashdrive.

For most of my own online backup i use SugarSync. You get 5GB free.

It’s like DropBox, but i found it much more versatile because you can choose which folders you want to synchronize. When i was using DropBox, you had to dump everything in a single DropBox folder, which i found annoying; i don’t know if that’s changed.

You should also check to see what is available to students at the college.

I teach in a public university system, and all of our students get a 10GB network space as part of their student tech package (email, etc.).

I’ve used Mozy for years. Backs up whatever folders you choose.

With DropBox you can sync multiple folders. You can sync different folders with different accounts as well.

The value. Of online is that it does not get lost like a thumb drive, nor “disappear” like some stuff in dorms or cheap apartments.

If you are planning on your own physical backup, Junior either needs an automated “sync” solution or get in the habit of actually doing a copy more than once a week…

Data expands to fill all available space. Once you start getting slides of every class, study notes, videos of key lectures, assignments, etc. - don’t be surprised if multimedia fills all available space, iTunes or not.

If you have a tech savvy student, then the best bet is both a backup drive 500MB plus, and a thumb drive (handy for quick swaps) and a plan to copy everything every day, plus backup of critical assignments and papers to online. BU drive goes into bottom drawer at back when not being copied.

Think how much this education is costing - that’s what the assignments are worth. $20,000/yr? Don’t scrimp, don’t blow a year for data loss…

Oh, and teach them to hit the save button in word or excel every 10 minutes…

As has been noted above, automation is probably the most important concern. For a college student, “backing up your computer” is one of those chores like “vacuuming your dorm room” or “getting a haircut” that it’s just really easy to keep putting off for a few more days. A “plug it and forget about it” option like MacOS’s “Time Machine” would be ideal, but I don’t know if a hard-drive-based solution like that exists for Windows machines.

As far as backing up papers and projects, go with google drive. I encourage people in college to set up a professional gmail address (mine is my full name with appropriate periods) and forward their college emails there so that you never get burned by low storage space.

Any important project should be backed up to a flash drive at least once a day while working on it in addition to using google drive.

I’d be concerned about theft of a harddrive - I think the online suggestions are the best.

Or, for thumb drives, just leaving it somewhere.

Over the past couple of years, i’ve found four USB thumb drives on campus: two in library computers, and two in the computers in the classrooms where i taught. The ones in the library belonged to students, and the ones in the classroom belonged to other faculty members who left them behind after teaching.

Instead of backing up your child before sending him off to college, why not just send a scratch monkey?

Take it from a professor - Dropbox is the killer app when it comes to backups, IMO.

I never worry about apps - I have the install CDs. But I have any number of documents that I need access to, whether in class, at a conference, or on the road. Dropbox means they are always accessible if you’re online, and there is a iOS app too - I have worked on presentations at the airport when I have a delay.

Dropbox also archives previous versions of the document. So if you accidentally delete a big section of your paper and you want to go back in time when it was intact, you can put that version up.

Dropbox + random USB drives to occasionally port things around… that’s all you need!

For mission critical data do not rely solely on only one backup method. Cloud storage is good, but even they will ocassionaly fark up and lose customer data.

Thumbdrives are good too, but even they are not 100% reliable. I had one cheapo USB stick that would occasionaly lose everything and require a format to be accessible again.

Finally, sometimes you might write a section and then decide to dump it and then decide that you want it back. So keep older versions of your work too, archived by date, not just the latest version.

Also, for flash drives, add a notepad file named ownerinfo.txt with your name and phone number. That way you at least have a chance to have your stuff find a way back to you.

and one of my favorite tricks, you can move your documents folder to dropbox, so that anything saving to docs folder is automatically mirrored to dropbox.