Backup: protecting your investment in learning

Safety of your knowledge stored in SuperMemo

Knowledge you store in SuperMemo might belong to your most precious data on your hard disk! After all it cost you months or years of editing and repetitions. You must continue your repetitions indefinitely to make sure you do not forget what you have learned. This is why backup skills are so vital!

Everyday you should pause for a moment and imagine the consequences of losing your work since the lack backup. Each time you invest lots of work in your collection, you should use File : Copy collection (Ctrl+Shift+C) to copy your learning material to some new location. You should copy to a different computer, to a flash drive, or to a DVD-R from time to time to prevent losing your work in case of a hard disk crash. 

Remember to retrieve and review your backup from time to time to make sure your backup files are stored correctly! Some users backed up only their KNO files for months thinking their backups are safe and complete! 

Example: to backup your collection to a network drive F:, you could press Ctrl+Shift+C, type "f:\my_July5_backup" and press Enter. Naturally, it would be nicer to backup to a dedicated folder, e.g. "f:\SM2004\backup\July5". SuperMemo will create for you folders that do not exist.

Learning process backup

If you are using a commercial collection available on CD or DVD, you can save lots of space if you backup only the learning process. You can do it with File : Tools : Export : Learning process. Note that this will not preserve changes you have made to texts in your collection. In case of a mishap, you can reinstall your commercial collection and restore the learning process with File : Tools : Import : Learning process. For example, the full semi-copy of Advanced English takes nearly 50 MB while the learning process backup takes from 0.1 to 3 MB depending on how much work you have put in repetitions.

Using WinZip, PKZip, etc.

If you would like to use archiving tools to reduce the size of your backup, remember to do the following:

  • copy the file <your collection>.kno and the folder <your collection> into one archive. Many users make a cardinal mistake of archiving only the kno file which is useless without the files in the accompanying folder. For example, remember to copy the folder biology-class when backing up biology-class.kno
  • remember to preserve the paths in archiving. If you fail to do this, you will most likely be unable to reassemble hundreds of files into appropriate folders

Quick backup

The fastest way to temporarily backup your collection, e.g. before a major rework, is to use Shift+F12 (File : Tools : Quick backup). Quick backup will skip some less important files. It will also name your backup with the date on which it was created. Remember NOT to use your backup for learning (this happens quite often to beginners!).

Example: Archiving with Total Commander

To archive your Physics collection with Total Commander by Christian Ghisler do the following:

  • find physics.kno (e.g. with Alt+F7 search)
  • in the panel displaying physics.kno, select physics.kno and [physics] folder (e.g. with Ins or with Ctrl+click)
  • choose Alt+F5 for Pack files
  • select Pack path names and Pack subdirectories (to preserve paths and folders)
  • choose OK. Your newly created archive should appear as a ZIP file with the default name <collections folder>.zip (this is by default)

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