Keeping files safe

Please see the suggestions below to ensure that your files are not lost and what to do if you accidentally do lose a file.

Save files in versions

"Saving in versions" means using "Save as" instead of "Save", each time using a slightly different file name. Many people tack on a sort of "version number"; beginning with "myfile", you might name successive saves "myfile-1", "myfile-2", "myfile-3", etc.

This means that a "save" always creates a new file with a new name, rather than replacing an existing file with a newer version of itself, deleting the older version in the process. If something goes wrong, you can always fall back to a previous version.

Often just a small part of a CD or other media will be corrupted. Saving files in versions spreads versions of the file into multiple areas of a disk and thus reduces the chance that all work would be lost.

Saving in versions has another benefit. In an ordinary "Save", where you update a file keeping the same name, the application must save the new version correctly under a temporary identifier, then delete the old version and rename the new version to the same name. If a system or application crashes during a save operation, there is always a chance that the saved file will be corrupted and the older version will be lost. Saving in versions prevents this, since only new files are created and no files are deleted.

Save to network drives

Many people do not take advantage of the network shares provided on all Engineering accounts (the 'H' drive) and our other network shares, such as those we provide for various departments. Our network drives provide several advantages over your own portable media:

  • more reliable
  • files are backed up nightly
  • files are available wherever you login in our labs
  • files can be easily recovered from "Shadow" copies or backups

We recommend using our network drives, in conjunction with your own portable media, to reduce the risk of data loss.

Recovering files from the network drives (also works on the C: drive in Windows 7)

Previous versions of files on your network drive can be recovered. If you are wanting to restore a previous version of an existing file, use Windows Explorer to browse to the existing file. Then, right click on it and choose "Properties". Then click on the tab labeled "Previous Versions". From here you will see whatever backups are currently available for your file, you can simple select one and then select "Restore". You will be prompted to confirm that you really want to overwrite the existing file with the previous version.

If you are needing to recover a deleted file, use Windows Explorer to browse to the folder where the file was deleted from. Again, right click on the folder and go to "Properties", and then the "Previous Versions" tab. When you restore a directory, it will replace *ALL* files in the directory with what was there on the date that you have selected. This means you will lose any changes that you have done since that backup. Make sure you have copied the current files somewhere else before you confirm to overwrite the folder.

Files will not remain recoverable forever; from time to time, these previous verion files are purged from the system.

If you need any help recovering files or have any questions about this feature, please talk to a consultant in the evening.

Save on two different forms of media

All data media are subject to failure -- a fact we all know, but often ignore because failures occur infrequently. Saving your data to two different locations, such as a network drive AND your own portable media, greatly reduces your risk of data loss.