This laptop has crashed enough times over the past few months to make me a bit smarter about backing up my files. There are plenty of ways to do so: sometimes, I use a flash drive; sometimes I’ll back up to disk; sometimes I’ll upload files to this blog; and sometimes I’ll even use our university network. The problem is that all of these processes are time-consuming and none of them are automatic. It gets worse when I work on multiple machines.

Live Mesh by Windows (thanks Life Hacker) is a great solution. First, it allows you to network all of the computers you use over the Web, making it possible to access your home files remotely from work, or vice versa (logmein.com has a similar service for free). But the coolest feature of Live Mesh is the “live desktop” feature, which automatically syncs/backups any folder you choose to the Web. Once you install the program–you need a Windows ID–you can tell Live Mesh to upload a folder to the Live Desktop. There is a 5 GB limit, but that’s enough for me.

Then, whenever you make changes to that folder on your local hard drive, Live Mesh automatically records those changes on the live desktop. In other words, it backs up your work to the Web as you go along, making it darn near impossible to claim that your file disappeared when your computer crashed.

Life Hacker has a helpful tutorial on this new tool. Check it out. And never lose your work again, even if you have a spotty laptop!