Computer Backups Can Save Your Life

Have you ever heard someone say that a backup ‘saved their life’? Have you ever talked to someone after their hard drive crashed, and didn’t have a backup? I talk to these types of people several times a week in my industry, and I can tell you for certain that backups are as critical as ever these days. A little bit of time taken every week can help prevent a great deal of loss. This could be a loss of not only information but very possibly irreplaceable family memories. I know, when working on website design, the last thing you want to do is backup data, but it’s vitally important.

I’ve Seen This Time and Time Again

I have been in the computer industry professionally for over 10 years now, and I still find people every single day that do not back up their data. Time and time again, people do not see the value of backups until they see their hard drive crash. And when it does crash, they do not want to hear the harsh realities of not backing up your data. Think for just a minute that if you took every document on your computer, whether at work or at home and put it into physical form. Imagine all of the pages of papers, photos, music, and movies now in their physical form. Now imagine that all of that gets burned up in a fire, never to be recovered. That is what could happen if your hard drive crashes.

There’s A lot of Moving Parts

I get a lot of questions as to why hard drives stop working so suddenly. Let’s put this into perspective here. The hard drives spin at 5400 to 10,000 rpm’s every minute they are on. Many of us leave our computers on all day, every single day. After 2-3 years, eventually, the bearings wear out, and the hard drive platters stop spinning. The best way to compare this is to run your car at 60 mph (which would only run your engine at about 3,000 rpm), 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I bet your engine would stop working sooner than 3 years! Be glad that hard drives last as long as they do. As ‘solid-state’ drives mature, we hope to ease hard drive crashes, as they do not have any moving parts, and are just static memory chips. But even solid-state fails after some time, usually without warning.

Your Data is More Important Than the Hard Drive it’s Stored On

Some of the most memorable stories of lost data you might not believe. I had someone lose all of their legal documentation the day before a trial. I have had someone who lost several thousand dollars worth of legally purchased music online. I have had someone who thought he lost 10 years of chemical and mechanical engineering research. The only common theme with all of these people was that in the 2-3 years of working on their current computer, they never backed up their data even once. The most common excuse is that “I don’t have time”. Seeing as how a backup of your hard drive should only take a few hours at most, their perspective changed drastically after their harrowing experiences.

What you really need to realize is the true value of your data on your computer. Ask yourself how long would it take to replace all of that data? Is there some data on your computer that is irreplaceable? Of that irreplaceable information, is it personal information that will make you sad or angry, or is it business information that could make you liable? Time and time again, I have had people say that there can be no possible value placed on their computer information because that data is so critical to their livelihood.

When your hard drive crashes, there are a few options for data recovery. There are a few companies in the United States that specialize in recovering data. The cost of this data recovery can be as little as $500, but can run easily into several thousand dollars. While some people say that it’s not worth it to pay that kind of money for your information, I have had many people that do not hesitate at forking out $2,000 or more to get their information back. Just remember, even with these companies, there is never a guarantee that your data can be recovered.

Backing Up YOUR data is smart.

It is always smart to start good backup and file saving habits as soon as possible. In my personal habits at home, I have a few golden rules. First off, any large files that I am working on for more than an hour (some files I have worked on for over 40 hours) I save a different copy at least every hour I work on it, something like FILE01, then FILE02. This way, if one file gets deleted by accident, I can use another copy, and I didn’t lose all my information. Second, I have a lot of files that I use very infrequently; I store most of them on an external hard drive that I only use for an hour or two a week. When I am not using this drive, I turn it off, which will extend the life of the hard drive longer than daily nonstop operation. Third, I do backups of the rest of my main hard drive onto this external hard drive. This practice means that if I have a hard drive crash, I can restore the hard drive data in a matter of a few hours. While this may be an inconvenience for many people, a few hours of work can save a lifetime of memories.

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