In an op-ed in the New York Times, UCLA film professor Jonathan Kuntz writes about the recent fire at Universal Studios. After describing the destruction of the courthouse square from To Kill a Mockingbird and Back to the Future, Kuntz notes:
More serious may be the loss of the circulating 35-millimeter theatrical prints. While not original masters, these are the copies made for screenings at repertory theaters, art museum retrospectives and in college classes. . . .
. . . .
This latest fire, I hope, will prompt Universal and its fellow majors to better preserve not just key titles like “Duck Soup,” “Dracula” or “Vertigo” — which will surely be reprinted and return to circulation — but also the other 90 percent of their inventories, the less famous and therefore more vulnerable titles that the studio may not feel justify spending thousands to save. These are exquisite samples of 20th-century American culture and deserve to always be seen in their extravagant, sensual, big-screen glory.
It sounds like after the fire, some of Universals’ assets no longer exist beyond a single remaining master copy. That’s troubling for several reasons. First, should the masters be destroyed, the best (and in some cases, only) copies will be lost. Second, for cultural use to be made of the materials, new copies must be made.
What does this have to do with law students? The same thing: the importance of archiving and the dangers of failing to do so. Every term, students suffer data catastrophes — hard drive crashes, stolen laptops, etc. — leading to lost class notes, outlines, paper drafts, etc. Law school is stressful enough without the added strain of losing a 100-page outline two days before the final exam. But sadly, it seems to happen every term.
Back up your essential files, do so regularly, and keep them in secure and geographically distinct places, such as multiple computers, external hard drives kept elsewhere, network storage, and/or online storage. Or do simple and quick backups: periodically email your essential files to yourself.
Advice part I (life and stress) here.
Advice part II (studying and attitudes) here.
Advice part III (back up your data) here.
Advice part IV (essay exams) here.
Advice part V (conclusory argumentation) here.
Advice part VI (incomplete argumentation) here.