$ cp -ruv uni/ /media/disk/does the trick. Now 2 things would have to break for me to lose my work. And if everything works out OK I format the Dongle and everyone is happy. But if my laptop decides to be funny I still have all my work.
I can not stress enough how important it is to think about backups. If you want your data to be reasonably secure you should always have a backup in a different physical location and secured with a different password. Loads of my friends and lecturers (that call them selves IT specialists) do no such thing. I can only hope they don't have to learn the hard way. I think this is a really understated problem. I know loads of people that say "Ah I do regular backups. I have a external hard drive next to my pc". And how much security does that give you? A robber taking your pc will also take the drive and your data is gone. At least use a service like dropbox for your important data. Taking away all the crap (mp3, videos etc..) you can download again normally you don't have that much "really vital" data. I have about 1 GB of files I really really don't want to lose.