Court reporters spend a lot of money before they can even begin working. They need a reliable machine for starters plus a laptop, software licenses, service contracts, and various ancillary supplies such as business cards, exhibit stickers, batteries, and extension cords.
All these items can be replaced almost immediately should disaster strike, but there is ONE item than cannot be purchased anywhere, in a store or through a vendor. Without it you are back at square one. Aside from your skill, it is your most valuable asset as a working court reporter. What is it? Your personal dictionary.
There are horror stories out there about court reporters who have lost all their equipment through car accidents or other natural disasters and, along with it, their personal dictionaries which resided only on their laptops. This has rendered them essentially dead in the water, unable to immediately resume their daily duties and earn the income they are accustomed to. Sadly, this situation could have easily been prevented if only they had backed up their dictionaries.
The conventional wisdom is to back up your personal dictionaries as often as possible, at least once a month, more often if you are just starting out. Think of all the entries you make on just one assignment, especially if you are at the beginning of your career. All that labor needs to be preserved and protected. For even greater insurance, it would be wise to back up your dictionary in multiple ways, such as in the cloud or on a couple of thumb drives. Then you can store one of the thumb drives in a location other than your office or home, such as a relative’s house, for safekeeping. The more times you back up and the more places you can store your backups, the safer you will be.
This advice also applies to backing up your jobs. I not only back up my jobs before I even leave an assignment, but I also back up after each editing session in case my laptop ever decides not to start up again. The thought of being unable to retrieve a deposition or hearing for an attorney is frightening, so that alone is worth going the extra mile to protect my files at all costs.
Learn from those who have lost it all. Save yourself the pain and avoid any serious repercussions and damage to your reputation. Consider it a vital investment in your professional career. Stop what you are doing and back up your dictionary right now. Back up, back up often, and back up in multiple places!