So I wanted to take a moment and point out a New Years Resolution that ALL OF YOU should get behind, DATA PROTECTION.
One of the most COMMON situations that occur in our classrooms every semester is Hard Drive Failure. This can come in the form of an external hard drive failing, an internal hard drive on your home computer failing or one of the crappy flash drives students bring in failing, getting damaged or, most commonly, getting lost.
Three things you need to do NOW, TODAY:
#1 - BACK UP YOUR DATA!!! In the future you will NEED those files from your previous classes, clients or other creative endeavors. WHEN your drive fails you will lose that data FOREVER. LITERALLY! FOREVER!
Do not trust Windows or Apple Mac OS to somehow find that data somewhere, it's not happening. (And Cloud solutions suck, cost money and are unreliable, IMO) You can use software from companies to find that data if you lose it, but just ask Best Buy how much that's going to cost you. Hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and you won't spend it. Go out and buy a 1 or 2 TB slow USB drive (Cheap is fine) and hook it up to your computer. When you go to bed, just copy everything (well your original data, not software or applications you can re-download or re-install) to the new Hard Drive and let it just copy away. Do this once a week at minimum. Add new files as needed. Unplug and set aside. Simple solution, not elegant. There are also other solutions that do things like Time Capsule and stuff, plus probably a million for Windows, but seriously, it's as easy as what I just told you.
Professionally I used to use Retrospect BackUp. (https://www.retrospect.com/) This software would crawl our computers at night and back up all of the companies computers to one huge drive (tape back up actually) that was databased and versioned everything in case we had a failure. Easy to find and easy to retrieve. But professionally expensive.
#2 - If your hard drive DOES fail or you somehow delete your files you should also have a Disk monitor available to keep track of your files in case it goes down. In the last week of class Jared Anderson somehow deleted all of his final project for After Effects class (apologies Jared). He thought his files were lost for good and would have to take a failing grade or recreate the entire project from scratch, rushed, at a much lower quality, over the weekend (because I'm cool like that as an instructor, maybe I shouldn't be and teach people a hard lesson...).
BUT I showed him Disk Drill (https://www.cleverfiles.com/) This was able to search his hard drive for deleted files and recover them for him (for the most part, it's not perfect). When you delete a file it's not actually gone, instead what happens is your computer simply erases the computers ability to track the file in the OS database. The Data is still there, the OS just no longer cares. Disk Drill can look at the, now unused, sectors of your drive and see what WAS there. Then it can reverse engineer the files to be recovered.
One Caveat though, if you have written new files to your computer since you accidentally deleted the files you want, the computer sees the blocks as empty and will write new data over the old data. SO if you deleted 500 MB worth of files and then added 1 GB of files, most likely you are screwed. And hopefully you can go to your back up hard drive and pull off the backed up version.
#3 - Install Disk Drill or DriveDX (https://binaryfruit.com/drivedx) or something to keep an eye on the health of your SSD/Hard Drives.
A note about SSD drives, they don't last forever, nothing does, but these are actaully built to fail if you read and write to them too much. No they do not have mechanical parts (YEA!) so how DO they keep your data? Electricity, and when that electricity fails, no more data. At least with a Hard Drive the failure is mechanical and you can actaully move that disk to a working mechanism to recover it. Not so much with an SSD. It's not hard stored anywhere.
Now SSDs can last a very long time, but there are no guaruntees because they are a relatively new invention and have not been in use for very long (less then a decade, and that is not a long period of time). Disk Drill and DriveDX show you the Wear Rate of your SSD drives. How long the expected life of the charge is based on the amount of read and write you have put on your SSD. They also tell you a bunch of other diagnostics, you can find them for yourself.
For example, my SSD in my 2013 Apple Laptop has a PowerCycle count of 94% of life left, but a Wear Leveling Count of 88% of life left. BUT KNOW THIS, I do not keep any of my project files ON my laptop SSD. I read and write my projects to a 2 TB RAID Thunderbolt Hard Drive or a 1 TB USB 3 Hard Drive (or one of a dozen of hard drives I have stacked up in my office). So I am not taxing my SSD as much as many of you who I see using it for all of your work and games.
Anyway, I'm sure there are a million of solutions out there for all three of these issues. I welcome you to post your favorites below and share them with your collegues. But please do SOMETHING NOW to protect your data and get in the habit or protecting your data today!
Happy New Year everyone.