Who hasn’t been here? You’ve been dissertating for hours, productively making your way through a chapter, presenting your evidence, crafting your arguments, and generally achieving the ideal of dissertation writing. Without warning, the power in your apartment goes out and your computer screen turns black. You let your laptop’s battery run down or you’re working on your desktop machine. Either way, you haven’t been saving your work as you go and when the electricity comes back on, you realize that the auto-save function of your word-processing program of choice was turned off and you just lost an entire day’s worth of work. You will scream; maybe you’ll cry; either way, you’ll have to rewrite.

We all know we should backup our work, but maybe we’re not as consistent or serious about it as we should be and that needs to change. There are any number of programs and devices that are designed to save us the frustration and heartbreak of losing work. We just have to use them. Flash drives and external hard drives serve no function unless we plug them into our computers. Dropbox is a wonderful storage and file sharing tool, but you have to take the time to upload your material. Google Docs and Google Drive will save automatically as you type and can be opened on any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Take the time to explore your options now before you’re faced with missing work.

Action Steps

  1. Make a habit of backing up your work.
  2. Find the programs and devices that work for you. There are well known and free cloud-based options available in addition to the standard flash drive or external hard drive.
  3. Save your work in at least three separate, unrelated places—your computer’s hard drive, a flash drive, and Dropbox, for instance.