Has this ever happened to you?
When I was working on my dissertation, back in the day when computers were a rarity rather than a fact of everyday life, one of my professors advised keeping a copy of my dissertation in a fireproof spot. She suggested the oven, since most ovens are well-insulated. Her second choice was the freezer. "What will you do if there's a fire in your apartment?" she asked. "Years of work could be turned into ashes in minutes." That was enough to give any graduate student nightmares.
Today, of course, the recurring fear is a computer crash -- one unprotected by a backup file. Gremlins attack files without warning. The power goes off before you save. The trash gets accidentally emptied. If you've never lost something you were working on, you are either incredibly lucky or more careful than anyone I know.
I'm sleeping better these days because I now use a simple but elegant program called Dropbox. This form of cloud computing saves and protects anything I store in it. It makes my saved documents instantly available on any computer or mobile device I may be using anywhere in the world. And, if I make changes to one of those documents, it syncs the changes on all my devices, so that the newest version is always awaiting me, wherever I may be.
Dropbox offers two gigabytes of storage for free. If you need more than that (and you probably won't), you can purchase 50 GB for $10.00 a month or 20 GB for $20.00 a month. I've been using my basic free version for over a year without coming close to filling it.
The program can be installed on almost any computer or mobile device. I have it on my desktop, my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop, but I've also been able to use it on the computer in a hotel business center by simply entering the URL that links to my Dropbox. You can open your Dropbox without being online, too. if you deposit a new document, it will sync with your other devices as soon as you go back online.
It provides other services as well. You can share photos or music with your friends by providing them with the link to your Dropbox. And best of all, it has a 30-day backup feature for any file it contains, even if you delete the original on your other devices.
This magical little blue box sits on my top toolbar, right next to my volume control and my date/time icons. It's that important to how I manage my files.