Backup strategies

Often talked about and seldom done: backups … We all know that we should backup our files regularly. But, honestly, when did you last do a backup? When preparing for a presentation we should constantly backup the files we are working on. After finishing our precious visual aids we should consider different backup strategies — just to be on the safe side.

The first thing that comes to mind is printing the slides out. If our equipment breaks down we can distribute a set of all printed slides to each listener and go on with our presentation, referring to the printout. We also can print our slides on transparencies, given the facility is equipped with an overhead projector. But, we should use that strictly as a backup measure only. What started as a useful concept, unfortunately developed into an infectious disease — mistaking printed-out slides with thoughtfully crafted handouts.

The second thing we can do is to store our presentation file on different storage devices such as USB memory sticks, CDs or DVDs. In case of a computer breakdown we can copy your file onto another computer, given there is a backup computer with the necessary software installed, and pray for the best. Having a computer with PowerPoint installed does not necessarily mean that our PowerPoint file can be opened and seen the way we have designed it. Still there is a lot that can go wrong: font conflicts, lacking video codecs, software incompatibilities (files created with different versions of PowerPoint can have compatibility issues).

That brings us to the third strategy — converting our PowerPoint file to a different file format. If we export our slides into a common picture format (jpeg, tiff, png, etc.) and put them onto a storage device we can be relatively sure to be able to use them on almost any computer. That applies to Adobe’s PDF format as well. The advantage of these formats is that the slides look exactly as designed. The price to pay is the loss of all the animation we might have put into our slides.

Technically advanced presenters can export their presentation file into a multimedia file format (movie with sound) such as AVI, MPEG, QuickTime, WMV, etc. Some of these formats can even be converted into a DVD to be played on any common DVD player, using the player’s remote control to navigate through the slides. Instead of rendering a DVD we can put image files as well as movies on a multimedia player, such as iPod, iPhone, etc. Being able to take our converted files with us helps us to rehearse our presentation whenever we feel like it. Using a multimedia player can add value to our work.

Axel Wendelberger