Corey’s Corner: the discipline of computers and backing them up

Dr. Barry Corey counsels students to back up their computers.


| Photo courtesy of University Communications and Marketing

President Barry Corey, Writer

Courtesy | University Communications and Marketing

A few weeks ago I went to the IT Help Desk not because my computer seized or unwelcomed viruses wormed into my hard drive. I went to say “thank you.” The fact that it’s called a “help desk” should be worthy of thanksgiving. For that’s just what they do, and they do this well.

Sure, I know that the ultimate help desk is God — what the poet David said about “an ever present help in time of trouble.” But I would also posit on a more mortal dimension that this kindly counter on lower Metzger is also an ever-present help in time of trouble.

And trouble they see.

The day I visited them, Victoria and Joshua were standing with that happy at-your-service disposition. I got to talking and they shared with me some of the troubled “patients” they’ve met. The young student who passed out on the floor when she realized her semester’s project may have been swallowed into oblivion because her computer crashed. The wide-eyed panic of those who fear they’ve lost their data with no back-up contingency to rescue them. This team works its hardest to do exactly what that desk states: help. Not only do these help desk professionals provide students with technical skills, they also keep close by a box of Kleenex. Seriously.

I’ve written many Corey’s Corner columns with reflections on big picture issues. Marriage. Diversity. Social justice. Globalization. Et cetera. But today I want you to take to heart one simple nugget of advice: back up. It may save you countless hours of panicked rewriting. It’s getting toward the end of the semester. Your long hours of pouring over draft upon draft of that paper is no easy feat. Believe me, it’s even harder to repeat. Don’t risk rewinding to step one and experiencing the emotional toll — not to mention time toll — of losing a document just when the clock is ticking the fastest. Back up.

With some practical advice from our friends in IT who person the Help Desk, consider taking a few moments to consider the following nine ideas. It’s like an insurance policy in that even if you never crash, you’ve got peace of mind.

Use automatic and continuous backup applications that don’t require any input from you.

Apple computers use Time Machine.

Windows computers use Windows backup and Restore.

Cloud backup service like CrashPlan, Carbonite or Mozy.

Back up the data that matters most, like your documents, pictures, music and movies.

Because computer hardware is susceptible to failure and data can be deleted by mistake or maliciously by malware or a virus, perform a full system backup followed by regular incremental backups.

Perform a backup before making any major changes to your computer.

Use a Cloud backup service like CrashPlan, Carbonite or Mozy (Biola uses CrashPlan for employee data).

Use an external hard drive — with a backup application like Time Machine for Apple or Backup and Restore for Windows — to periodically back up your computer.

Use a USB thumb drive or Google Drive to backup your current class work.

Create two separate copies of the data. In a worst case scenario, like fire or theft, if your computer and your backup are in the same location you lose both.

Stop by the Help Desk just to say thank you, since you’ll not need to go there as much if you take seriously the discipline of backing up.

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