Back It Up. All of It.

Don’t be a dummy, back up your (organized) data. Save yourself the tears, the worry, the “I told you sos” from well meaning and not so well meaning folk, and have a system for backing up your data.


At this point I have gone through three laptops (two of which were over ten years old, one of which was given to me by my professor because I was the only one in the class without a modern machine, so he generously gave me his slightly younger machine that he was going to throw away), and an unwanted Windows 10 update [shakes fist] that wasn’t compatible with my desktop’s motherboard so we lost everything on the desktop.

Yesterday my laptop, my stupid, stupid 4 year old laptop that was supposed to last at least until graduation decided to snap at a critical point at the motherboard and the monitor light for the screen died. I got a quote from Microcenter for $350 to replace the plastic casing underneath and the charging point. For plastic?! Heck no. I’m just going to have to make it work for the time being.

I’ve installed a Virtual Machine in my desktop to make up for this. The installation process was not simple, so I’ve documented it.

It could happen to you….

One of my friends lost a years worth of data because his backpack was stolen with the USB inside. One of my supervisors said his windows machine crashed 6 months before his thesis was due. Well, its about that time for me too and my stupid laptop died. But my world didn’t come crashing down, and instead I’m just annoyed that I don’t have a portable laptop anymore.

So here’s what I’ve done:

Back up everything in three places.

1) USB
2) Dropbox
3) Google Drive

Get a Backup for your Backups

I own a personal cloud drive. All my photos from my cell phone go on there to save space along with all my old documents, ect. That way I can have more storage and memory for computing – plus a reduction in clutter, but I never lose anything.

Organize All Those Files

1) Rename every file for easy recall of context
2) Include year, class, topic
3) Pull all relevant files in a folder, use as many subfolders as needed

Go Paperless

Stationary, paper, and nice pens are my jam. But I am too darn old to run back to the lab to get my lab notebook. I need to be able to recall my notes anywhere via Google Drive, Evernote, or Email. I hate that feeling of remembering that I wrote a thing… and then not able to find it again.

My holy grail items are 1) Mendeley, 2) Evernote, and 3) Boogie Board


I will write a note to myself or highlight a certain section. When I was in Psychiatry I used to have an old-school filing system; a massive drawer where all my papers will meticulously organized. But if I had a thought, I would have to desperately try to remember the article I had the thought about, and the part of the article that triggered the idea. No more! I write very descriptive notes in Mendeley, so that when that thought is triggered, I search for the article with the searchbar in Mendeley with Notes:[search term] and BAM! there is the article I was thinking about, at the exact place I had my idea. More on this via the Mendeley Blog.


I write very descriptive titles in my Evernote and tag them obsessively.

Boogie Board

I looove my Boogie Board Sync. A year into it the Boogie Board unceremoniously stopped working. I learned this the hard way after a really interesting meeting with one of my commitee members that nothing had been saved. I sent a sad email to Boogie Board, since I had missed the year mark by a couple days. Over a week went by and I figured I was out of luck.

My Sad Email:

My boogie board stopped syncing via Bluetooth a few days ago, but now it doesn’t even save files. I thought it was a problem with the bluetooth, but I took notes from my committee meeting and found when I plugged in the board that nothing was there :( It was fully charged and hasn’t had any other problems.

I’m very sad; this product allowed me to go completely digital and completely transformed my workflow. It was given to me as a gift for my doctoral thesis work. I carried it in a folio protector, told absolutely everyone I knew how amazing it was. Is there a way it can be fixed? I’m not sure why its not even saving the files anymore.

Their Response
Out of the blue, after ten days they responded and asked for the registration number.

Rebecca your replacement has been sent out and once it ships I will provide you with the tracking information. I have included a return label for you to send yours back to me. Thanks, Chris

My Response


YESSSSS, thank you so much.


If you had limited financial or computing resources to invest in a second backup, which would be the most important? Google Drive, Dropbox or something else?