By Lincoln Spector | Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:15 am
Someone stole John Boldt’s laptop out of the trunk of his car. Nothing really newsworthy about that. But according to a CTV Calgary article, that laptop contained the University of Calgary grad student’s nearly-completed master’s thesis, as well as his research and notes.
“It’s so many years of my life just thrown away,” Boldt told CTV. “The computer can be replaced. It’s what’s on it that can’t.” Unless an honest thief returns the precious files, Boldt figures that he can’t return to the University. His academic life and future career, judging from the article, are pretty much over.
Neither Boldt nor the article’s unnamed author mentions the obvious: That he has no backup. If there was a second copy of those files on an external hard drive in his home, on a server at the University, or somewhere in the cloud, he would have lost only the hardware (and the clothes, cash, and credit cards that were also stolen).
Backing up has never been easier; we used to do it on floppies. Yet Boldt has either never heard of the practice or simply didn’t bother. He’s paying a high price for that. And the author of the article apparently never thought to bring up the issue.
It’s really simple, folks. You should never have only one copy of anything, and you should never have all of your copies on the same machine. As long as people don’t get that message, or choose to ignore it when they do get it, more college degrees, careers, and family photographs will be lost.
The article didn’t mention Boldt’s major. Let’s hope it wasn’t computer sciences.