- Save often! You have many choices of where to save files to – a flash drive, your phone, a portable hard drive, even “Cloud Storage” on the web. Use them. It only takes one hiccup of Word and – boom – everything you’ve worked on the last two weeks is gone. You should especially save before printing because if there’s one time where everything can go wrong and destroy your work, that’s the time.
- Back-up Your Files. If your file is only in one place, it is not safe. Keep at least two copies of your files, on separate flash drives, “Cloud Storage” locations (see below) or hard drives. Always remember, flash drives can get lost or die, email attachments can get deleted – so the more places you have a file, the better chance you have of not losing it.
- Library computers, though, are not a good location to save on, other than temporarily. Not only does putting a file of yours on a library computer mean everyone who uses that computer afterwards can see it the rest of the day (we recommend deleting anything you saved there before logging out of your session), every time our computers reboot – whether due to a problem or simply them turning on in the morning – everything on it we didn’t put there is erased…and that includes your files. If you’re downloading a file to work on, you can use the computer of course, just remember to upload it when you’re done or your work…goes away.
- For files attached to emails, always download first before you work on them. If you just open it straight from the email into the program, any changes you make to that file will only be saved on a temporary file buried deep where you’ll never find it. And when you close the program you were using, the file and your changes will disappear forever…
Downloading from the Internet
- For files on a website or attached to an email, the best way is to right-click on the file and choose “Save As.” Some file links, however, are basically set up to do this automatically (you’ll know because it will try to save a generic html file rather than the file you want when you right-click). For those, just left-click.
- For webpages, however, click on commands and choose “Save Page As.” You can save it either as just the text (“html only”) or as the text with all the images (“complete”) which will save that text and also a folder with all the other files (mostly images) in it.
- Sometimes all you need is part of the text from a webpage. You can highlight it with your mouse by holding left-click. Then do right-click/Copy and then right-click/Paste in, say, Word, or whatever other program you’re pasting it into.
Cloud Storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.)
“Cloud Storage” is a fancy way of saying “saving your files on a website.” There are many Cloud Storage sites out there these days. Here’s a partial list of some of the top sites:
While features at the different sites vary, they all do essentially the same thing – provide an online location to store files that can be accessed from anywhere on any machine. This has advantages in making them available anywhere, and disadvantages in that you have to download them to make changes then upload those changes back to the website to save them.
They usually have a small program that you install to integrate your cloud storage in with your regular hard drive on your computer, but obviously, we don’t have all those programs installed on our machines (not the least reason being the risk of someone leaving their storage site open and available to the next student!). Fortunately, they all have ways to access the files nearly as easily on your browser.
The following are instructions for Dropbox, but all the sites work almost identically.
- Log into the site
- Right click on the file you want to access and choose “Download”
- Pick where to save it. The file downloads and you’re ready to use it.
- Log into the site
- Choose the file you wish to upload
- Click “Done.” A copy of the file uploads and now is on your cloud site.
Remember if you make changes to your file, you’ll need to upload it back to your site before you leave the workstation – otherwise all your work is gone.