Saving Scholarship—One File at a Time

After recently transitioning to Ubuntu, I found that my previous online backup solution had some issues running in Linux, even via a Windows XP virtual machine in VirtualBox. With some additional research, however, I came across Digital Lifeboat:

Digital Lifeboat is still in beta. So, the software has had some hiccups, but overall, it has worked fairly well. Digital Lifeboat won’t presently backup directly from a shared system folder in VirtualBox, but syncing the shared folder to a local folder within the virtual machine itself does let Digital Lifeboat read the folder and run the backup. Perhaps the service’s greatest advantage, however, is that users who sign up during the beta period receive free, unlimited storage for the life of their accounts.

For day-to-day archiving and file sharing, Dropbox still has some advantages over Digital Lifeboat. But, something like a Zotero directory of about 6 GB will eat into even an expanded Dropbox allotment very quickly. So, if you’re needing an online backup solution for a large amount of data, signing up for Digital Lifeboat during the beta period is certainly cost-effective and may be worth a look.


  1. What about the old fashioned way? Just burn a dvd backup? Plenty of software packages to help you do that. What’s the benefit of entrusting your precious data/personal info to a corporate cloud whose business model is *not* in your interest? And what if the company goes away, or sells out to a company with no commitment to you or your data?

    Bah! Humbug! 😉


    1. Interestedness is certainly a point to consider. DVD or external HDD backups would certainly work and have the advantage, as you say, of not being dependent on another entity. But, on-site storage of these physical media has downsides too (e.g., theft, flood, fire), as does off-site storage (e.g., accessibility, costs for off-site storage space). I wish I could find a “best of both worlds” scenario, but at present, sadly, there seems to be a matter of which paranoia I (or whoever) finds less bothersome. :-/

      Knowing your perspective on the issue, I was kind of thinking/waiting/hoping for you to comment on this point. 😉 Any suggestions for a “best of both worlds” scenario?

  2. Here at the Groves Center, we do a monthly backup of everything onto three sets of DVDs. One we store in a bank safety deposit box, one at my home and one at the Groves Center. Short of some sort of regional holocaust, we’re covered.

    For an individual scholar, two copies at two separate places ought to be sufficiently safe.

    Another downside to cloud backups: if the company’s servers are hacked, and they go down, you can’t access your data. So if one does use them, I strongly recommend a local copy in case of that event. It is not a remote possibility. It has already happened…

  3. A further thought: one could make two copies and store them at a trusted relative or friend’s home. Also, it’s a good idea in principle to have a fireproof lockbox of some kind in your own home to store important papers, including a local copy of the backup.

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