I am going to say to all of you exactly what I would like to say to my users. No one cares about your data except you. No one. Because I am a professional, I will murmur comforting thoughts when all your data is gone and keep the thought that you have acted like a moron to myself, but really, I don't care. It's not my job to care, I am not responsible for your data, I am responsible for the system and the software.
Back up your data. Then back it up again. Automate the process.
Before it is lost, however, I am a willing tech support guy, happy that you are trying to be a responsible adult and open to providing options, software solutions, advice, etc. The university provides server based storage for all faculty and staff and just doubled the size of everyone's share with an easy way to get more space if you have large data sets.
That server based storage is:
1. backed up daily, then weekly, then monthly, back through a year.
2. accessible from off campus through a secure method.
3. considered secure, meaning that if it got compromised it is not the user's responsibility.
For personal use, I recommend a set of portable hard drives and automated backup software. Swap out the drives every month. Store the second drive in a different location than the computer. That will mean you don't lose more than a month if the entire system is destroyed. The daily automated backup ensures whatever you designated to back up is secure from a single hard drive or computer failure and you don't lose more than a day.
If that seems onerous, just use an attached hard drive backup for the daily backups and pay an on-line service to provide you with the offsite long term storage.
What you should not do:
1. Ignore the advice to set up a backup solution.
2. Pretend that data you didn't back up is important.
3. Pretend that data you didn't back up is important, really, the proof that it was not important is that you didn't back it up.Here is a list of some of the things that can happen. I chose these because they are all things that have happened to users I support.
1. Total, sudden, catastrophic hard drive failure.
2. Pouring a water tumbler full of gin and tonic on a laptop.
3. Having a cat pee on a laptop (leading to hard drive failure).
4. Pouring coffee on a laptop.
5. Dropping a laptop (leading to hard drive failure).
6. Having a computer stolen (the drive might be fine, the data is gone)
7. Having a virus (many many times, sometimes leading to data loss).
8. Having the Ransomware virus (once, data gone).Sometimes I have been able to recover their data from the damaged system and I will if I can. Once we sent a drive out to a recovery service. That data was considered important enough to justify the $2200.00 charge.
My job is to repair or replace the computer, operating system, and software. I will do that, set you back up and restore your network access, configure your email and connect you to the network printer.
If you had five years of research data, the great American novel, all the pictures of your family since you first bought a digital camera in 2003, fifteen years of email archives, or anything else that suddenly became important after the screen went blank, ask yourself this question; "Where does data go when the only copy of it is destroyed?"
Next time I'll talk about anti-virus and personal computer security.
Back your shit up.