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Save in Threes: Protecting College Students from Data Loss


Data retention and safety is finally becoming top-of-mind for institutions of higher learning.  However, most students are not taking data protection as seriously as needed. Too often, valuable files-ranging from expensive music collections to large portfolios of work that represent hours of research and study-are lost in a matter of seconds.

Far too many students have been under the false security of their data being safe.  As long as they do not lose or damage their hard drives, these students believe losing their files is nothing to be concerned about.

However, according to market research, one in 20 hard drives will fail the first year, 25% of hard drives will fail within four years, and more than half of hard drives will fail and lose your precious data within just six years.  This makes one question “How old is my desktop again?” and “What am I really doing to ensure my precious documents, pictures and hard work are backed up?”

Maintaining three forms of saved data is the only reliable way to be safe.  However, a vast majority of college students only keep the original files saved, and only a small number have taken the longtime advice of industry professionals by backing up their hard drives in three ways on a daily basis.

Save in Threes

Students and faculty should always save their files on the hard drive in which they are working, then save the information on an external hard drive.  Finally, students should save their information through a third party source or simply upload the new data to a system like GoogleDrive or Dropbox.  These drives do not take up any of your hard drive space, as they are secured offsite and these outlets are two quick and reliable methods.

Thumb drives or flash drives are never an acceptable method of longterm data backup.  These unreliable devices frequently fail and are intended to be used specifically for temporary transitions, such as giving a presentation.  Bigger is typically better when reliability is concerned regarding external hard drives, so obtain a reliable external source because it is not a matter of “if” you will need it, but “when.”

Remember these facts: there has never been any software that is 100% virus-proof, there has never been a computer that cannot be stolen or broken, and it is impossible to prevent every power surge.

A full-time college student is most likely recommended to back-up in triplicate daily because of their workload.  However, back-ups should be done whenever you have produced or obtained enough information to where replacing it would be difficult or time consuming.

Universities are slowly transitioning into using cloud-based back-ups for students and faculty.  Providing long-term storage for the student to access their work during and after their college career is paramount.  Intellectual property rights of students is also a priority for these cloud-based backups.  However, a vast majority of collegiate environments are years away from this transition.  The insightful task is to always maintain the rule of saving in triplicate even when cloud-based options guarantee safety and preservation.

The groundbreaking accomplishments of data preservation have just begun, but it has led far too many students to believe that the previous methods of data preservation are antiquated.  Now more than ever, students need to protect their school work and personal information.  Follow the rule of saving to three different sources and you will never lose priceless information.

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