Working with files

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • provide guidance and information on managing data and how this can impact and support your studies
  • explore the importance of metadata in the digital world
  • examine tools to improve productivity

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • identify various file types and distinguish their usage
  • apply file management conventions, such as folder structure and version control
  • create storage and backup plans

3. Backups

You know that backing up your files is really important, but do you really do it? Taking the steps to actually back up your files and data doesn't need to be hard. You should develop a manageable backup plan that works for your needs so that you don't end up having to post a sign at University, like the one below.

Example of where someone should have had a backup plan.

Backup plans

The basics of a backup plan are to keep copies of files in multiple locations. In practice, this means saving your file then copying that file to a different location, for example, USB drive, external hard drive or cloud storage, not just to a different folder on the same computer.

Various storage mediums that could be used
for backing up.

Not every file you possess requires an active and elaborate backup plan, as they are easily recreated or not important. Some applications or tools automatically backup. For instance, in the past, photos of family and friends required a safe and secure storage solution as they were irreplaceable memories. Nowadays most photos are taken with a smartphone.

Apple, Microsoft and Google save a copy of these photos to your account that can be accessed from any computer or device. If you lose or replace your phone your photos are not lost. Check your device and account settings to ensure this is the case.

Automating backups

Backing up files to a USB stick, external hard drive and then to a cloud storage account after each update or change is a hassle and time-consuming process.

Cloud storage solutions often have a desktop application you can download, that can backup files locally and on the cloud. There are also a number of options for USB stick and external hard drive syncing, these types of solutions allow you to set up schedules and rules so that your folders on your computer backup to your desired device. One option is  Apple Time Machine.

While automated backups are time-saving, they require setting up and may not be as effective or reassuring as manually backing up files yourself.

Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

 Independence and creativity

 Critical judgement

Check your knowledge

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