Why you should stop everything and go back up your files!

For those who follow me on Instagram (@ScholarCulture) you will know that two weeks ago I spilt water all over my laptop. Today, I will share with you the full story of what happened and why you should stop everything you are doing and go back up your files right now!

I’m serious though – before we go any further, stop and go back up your files.

And if you do not have any form of back up, external drives etc. then keep reading and you will learn more about how I am now doing this, which I hope will give you some inspiration to do the same.

Okay, now that you are back, I want to share with you how this all went down:

The last day of my reading week,  actually more like the last hour of my reading week is when it all happened.

It was Sunday at 8pm. My train was the next day around noon to head from Toronto back to Ottawa. I was working away at my computer, and I was really in the zone. I had poured a full glass of water a couple hours before. But you know what you are in the zone, head down… the last thing you are thinking about is drinking water. Well needless to say, it was still full by the time I was finished. My partner gently reminded me that it was probably a good idea to stop and to eat something for dinner. I agreed. Everything that I was working on was pretty much done. I planned to a quick read through and edit in the morning and send it all off then. But as we were cooking, we bumped the table the water knocked over and went all over the laptop. Every last drip.

You can imagine there was a major freak out and we tried to do everything we could to get as much water out of the laptop as soon as possible. Our last night together was ruined and I barely slept that night. I went to Apple the next day before my train, they took my computer apart and told me it was the worst case scenario. It would cost over $1000 to repair and they couldn’t recover any of my documents.

The last time I had backed up any of my files was on an external hard drive, one month prior. So not only did I lose everything from that month, but everything I was working on during my reading week was gone.

These past two weeks have been extremely busy and tiring, trying to replicate everything I lost and deal with the financial consequences. But my lessons have been learned:

  1. Things could always be worse. I am glad it was only a months worth of work and not any longer.
  2. I am also glad this happened now, during course work, and not when I was collecting any data or writing my dissertation. Now I have a pretty good back up system going.
  3. It allowed me a fresh start and re-strategize how I am organizing my files and what it is I am keeping.

The point of this whole story is to remind everyone to back up their files so this does happen to them.

Here is how I back up my files now:

  • I have an iCloud account: This automatically backs up whatever I am working on in my documents folder or on my desktop. The cost of this is about $1.30 a month (Canadian) for 50GB.
  • I have an external hard drive for my personal files: This is the hard drive I had previously. I back this up every month.
  • I have an external hard drive for my future research: This will be used when I collect data.
  • I have 1 more external hard drive that is a copy of these first two hard drives: Essentially a back-up of my back-up. I know this sounds excessive but what if I spill water on my hard drive???

I hope through me learning this hard lesson, I can help this from happening to you.


For those of you who are a lot more prepared than I am, how are you backing up your files? I know others use dropbox or google docs. I am curious to know how others save their work.

Until next time,

Christine xo

P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad #ScholarSunday to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.

P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2019/20 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application. Are you in grad school and struggling to find easy lunches to bring to campus? Check out three FREE recipes and full nutritional information here.


2 responses to “Why you should stop everything and go back up your files!”

  1. I use Dropbox for everything and it has been a lifesaver! I don’t save anything directly onto my computer – you can set Dropbox up to sync files on your computer and the cloud, so it saves in both places, and any edits get saved in both places. I can access all my files from any device through their apps, or on their website on any computer. I’ve had so many disasters that I had to find a solution that was automatic and didn’t require periodic backups, because I kept forgetting! Once I got into the habit of saving into Dropbox’s synced system, I haven’t had any issues, and it has had the side effect of leaving me with an uncluttered desktop as well. I know other people who have essentially the same setup with Google drive too. I do pay about USD 100 per year, I think, for upwards of 1TB of space. It’s worth it for me for the accessibility and the peace of mind!

    1. Scholar Culture

      This is great advice! Thanks so much for sharing, Christine 🙂 iCloud works in a similar way but it is a bit cheaper. Good to know there are options out there!

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