Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Importance of Backing Up

I'm sure all of you have heard it preached before by dozens of people the importance of backing up. If you're anything like me, you tend to just nod these things away and go through the motions of acknowledging what the people are saying, while in your head, you're secretly telling yourself "The chances of anything happening to me are so slim, it's almost not even worth it to back up your work and files." or even simpler "that'll never happen to me..."

Well i'm here to tell you, while backing up everything you possibly own might be a little excessive, because if you've never made any tech savvy enemies, chances are you're not going to have some douchebag hack your system, steal all of your information then corrupt your hard drives (this is outside the obvious of stop scrolling the unsafe, free porn websites and you won't have any russian superhackers selling your personal information on the black market by monday. However, backing up specific pieces of information, and maybe not even so much that as it is important to keep rock solid records and hold off on deleting certain critical files for a period of time.

In the Fall semester of 2013, i was taking a class on the Assembly programming language, i was trucking through it just find and everything was going well for me until about 2 weeks before the end of the semester the instructor offered to show us our grades up to that date in confidence. Well when i went up to him, he told me as it stood there was no chance of me passing the class. This seriously confused me because i had turned in all of my work, i had received A's and B's in all of my assignments. It turns out that among the chaos of all his classes, he neglected anything that had anything to do with my grades or assignments and so his grade book was showing absolutely nothing turned in except for the first 2 of 4 quizzes.

I assured him for 20 minutes that i had turned in everything and he refused to believe me, i'm sure i looked like the stereotypical drop-out student who doesn't do a damn thing and then tries to weasel his way into a passing grade at the very last second. As such, he made a deal with me, that if i could find timestamped logs of my turn-ins as well as copies of the documents that had un-hampered created dates, he would give me the grades that i deserved on all my assignments, If i could just come up with the documents, regardless of the created date, he would give me points for the assignments, but with a deduction for turning them in late.

I scrambled around in a frenzy for a week trying to collect all of these assignments which became a problem because i didn't really back up any of my work or keep a sturdy email record. I ended up having to recreate several of the documents from scratch and i lost a huge amount of points in the class all because of his blunder combined with my epic fail of data retention.

So after barely passing a class that i should have aced, i learned the hard way that from that day forward, i was making immaculate records of all my transactions between all my contacts including backed up copies of all files transfered between people on an external hard drive that i kept with me at all times and purchased specifically for school. A sizable 500GB external with a decent transfer rate, to ensure that i would never ever run out of space until long after i was done with school for my entire life.

Well the next semester i signed up for a class on Database Design and Development, and on the day of the class, my teacher pulled out from the class and as luck would have it, that exact same teacher that screwed up my grade last semester picked up the class. This time i was prepared though. I wasn't about to let this teacher shove me around and cause me to bust my ass twice on work to get a barely passable grade. So, i started doing the same strategy, only this time, all of my correspondence was cataloged under his name in my gmail folders as well as externall backed up with all of my homework assignments, neatly organized and with additional copies of all original correspondence, timestamped in 3 different places and never touched again.

Sure enough, 3 weeks into the class, he was already losing my assignments again. Just as i had feared. This time as soon as i noticed it, i immediately emailed him an email with an attached copy of the original text in the body of the message, a copy of the original text in a log file, and the original assignment, all time stamped on the creation date of the files as well as the actual "Originally sent" date on the email itself. He responds, acknowledging the email and does nothing. This guy is becoming a problem. I send the email again a few weeks later he responds once more and again, does nothing about it. So not i'm approaching him in class a few weeks later and i'm sitting there in front of him with my email open, i pull up the tag in my inbox with him watching, he's just floored, then and only then does he consent to grading the paper right in front of me and punching in my grade right in front of me. So finally i have all my assignments in and my grade is just where it needs to be.

The moral of this story about my shitty experience with a shitty educator, is that you can't always trust other people with important documents. There's just no chance that nobody is going to lose something critical to something. So it falls upon you to cover your own ass. Back up critical pieces at the time of their creation that way you don't run into angst later down the line with some useless douchebag takes it upon himself to ruin your life and try to cheat you out of money.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Leave your response in the comments.

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