"Need to figure out how my external drive works."
"I've never had problems with my computer before."
"I have back up CDs...from last month."
"I know I should."
Do these excuses for not backing up your hard-won research and writing files ring a bell?
Some of you have confessed that although you know you should, you don't actually, regularly, and faithfully back up your work!
If this describes you, you need to face the music. Figure out what's stopping you. Tackle this issue directly. Is it a technical glitch? Lack of knowledge? Lack of time? Overwork? Fatigue? A coctail of stress/fear/anxiety/overwhelm? Are there any underlying issues -- however surreptitious -- that may be causing you to self-sabotage at a critical moment in the completion process?
Maybe you simply don't have a plan of action. Right now, take action. 1. Commit to backing up your work weekly. 2. Mark a specific day and time -- set an alarm if you need to -- and intentionally do a back-up of your computer files to two off-site locations (for example: a server and an external drive/CD's/DVD that you store in a separate building from your computer).
I recommend a full back-up every Friday. Say TGIF and kick back while your computer burns your book draft or dissertation journal to CD, then stash the CD somewhere safe. Get those once-in-a-lifetime media files of that ethnographic ritual onto a portable external drive -- and store it off-site, of course. (Worse Case Scenario Logic: If a thieft takes your computer, s/he will probably take the expensive external drive sitting next to your computer, too, right?)
An easy additional step that can be done daily: Email your dissertation chapters to your own email account. Instant back-up!
You can also set up free email accounts specifically for storage (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now, go back up your files. Your work is worth the effort.