I my case I had the hinge on my alienware laptop fail followed by the SSD (my system and program drive) in my desktop to die after less than a year!
Thankfully I’m an avid Dropbox user and keep all of my current school files in it. Not only does this simplify your life if you work across multiple devices like say an office desktop, home desktop, a laptop, an iPad, an iPhone and even a Kindle Fire… But it also saves you when the crap hits the fan.
Look, backups are great. I recommend offsite (online) ones in case of theft or fire. However when a computer dies you might not have the time to fix it before a crucial deadline. Dropbox lets you walk to the next available device and pickup where you left off and worry about fixing the computer over the winter break.
The best part is that Dropbox is free up to 2 Gig of space. In my 2 years of using it, I haven’t needed more than half of that amount of space.
A fellow PhD student recently lost a day’s work on her disertation after her MacBook froze up. It will happen. You will not escape it. Click save often and setup dropbox today.