Category: PhD lIfe

If it ain’t backed up in three places, it doesn’t exist.

Tricks and tips for a happy PhD: Using cloudHQ to sync my Dropbox and Google Drive.

Back in the nineties this glorious piece of black comedy did the rounds (in the old fashioned way, via forwarded emails). In it, a man leaves an voice message with a computer repair shop at which he has entrusted his laptop. From the off you know something’s up as his voice shakes, his words are clipped, and you hear the ricktus of his lips as he tries to suppress whatever it is that is barely concealed beneath an obviously unquiet surface. It’s all for nothing though, as the pressure builds and ultimately he explodes into incadescent rage. The repair shop has removed and replaced his hard drive, and in the process lost “Everything I have been working on for the past two G********m f********g years of my life!!!!!!!” Lost in a maelstrom of bellowed expleteives, his complaint only worsens from there.

While it’s hard to resist a chuckle at the plight of this poor soul, your heart really does go out to him. There’s definately a moment of ‘there but for the grace of God …’. Especially considering that back in the nineties the internet barely existed (let alone the cloud), and everything you wanted to back up had to be done on floppy disks, which had a tendency to become corrupt without warning leaving you no better off than if you hadn’t spent an afternoon waiting in mind numbing tedium for a large document to be copied over to a box of half a dozen floppies.

Now we have the cloud, so I guess phone calls like the one above are fewer and further between. However, it is a fool indeed that thinks everything will be just fine without a back up.

I’ve spent the last two years writing a PhD thesis (and still counting). So, my laptop holds not just lots and lots of writing, but all of the materials and data relating to my research. If my hard drive goes pop, I’m never getting all that back. So, I signed up to Dropbox, which allows me to sync pretty much everything on my laptop to the cloud and gives me a bit of piece of mind. However, having been reminded recently of the maxim in the title of this post -‘if it ain’t backed up in three places it doesn’t exist’- I’ve been pondering ways to belt-n’-braces myself and find a third safe place in which to keep the sum total of my PhD life.

My university gives all of its staff and students a big chunk of Google Drive, so this was the obvious choice. The problem is though, how do I get the thesis folder on my hard drive to sync with both Dropbox and Google Drive? I don’t want to have two versions of the folder on my laptop – one for each cloud service. For one, this would take up twice as much room on my laptop (which is already overflowing) and would mean having to manually upload files to Google Drive each time I modified or created them in Dropbox – which defeats the whole purpose of automatic syncing.

Today, however, I came across cloudHQ. cloudHQ acts as a messenger between my Dropbox and Google Drive. It’s great. It has a intuitive interface, where you drag and drop your cloud services into a simple schematic. This then tells cloudHQ which folders on which cloud you want synced with which other folders on which other cloud. The service then just ticks away in the background (whether you’re plugged in and online or not) and makes sure that you have the latest copy of whatever you’ve been working on in both places all the time.cloudHQ

There are loads of other features that help you keep your clouds in line (for example, integrating email accounts, integrating apps, bulk forwarding, and email archiving). But for me, the peace of mind of knowing that my data does exist (in three places) is what I’m after, and cloudHQ does just this.

Now that I’ve got this set up I hope I can safely say that I will never be the man in that harrowing voicemail.

Check out cloudHQ here.

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