Why Data Backup is Important

When I talk to people about their computers, I always try to bring up the topic of backup and a surprising number of people simply don’t backup their data. Data backup is the simplest and most cost-effective method for one to recover their lost data. Backup really isn’t that hard, all it takes is some planning and of course, a little money. I personally think that cost is the the single factor hindering people from backing up their data. People often say there’s nothing they would miss if it was gone, but think of all the documents, and pictures that could be gone in a blink of an eye.

Backup might seem unnecessary and expensive, but is far cheaper, than paying for data recovery one time. Data recovery services can cost anywhere between $300 and $2,000 with no guarantee of data recovery.  It is important to keep in mind that approximately 13% of hard drives fail every year and when they do, it’s expensive and time consuming to recover data from them.

Every hard drive will fail, and often without warning. It is a fact of life and the only way to be prepared is to have a backup . Yes, there is some expense involved with most backup methods, however, it gives one peace of mind that they will not lose their data in the event of a hard drive failure. Even in less dramatic circumstances, like accidentally deleting a file it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back.

There are numerous ways to backup one’s data, the most important thing is that they do it! The most basic method is to backup to an external hard drive, both Windows and Mac OSX have automatic backup built-into their respective operating system. In addition to being the simplest method of backup, it is probably the least expensive, only requiring an external hard drive.  So how big of a hard drive does one need? It is best practice to have use an external hard drive that is 1.5-2 times the size of one’s primary hard drive. For example, if one has a 500 GB internal hard drive, they should use a 1.5- 2 TB external drive as most backup systems keep multiple versions of each file. Local backup is a great in the case of a simple hard drive failure, however, if there is a disaster such as  theft, fire or flood, those external drives are often right next to one’s computer so it is just as vulnerable as the original hard drive.

Online backup services such as Carbonite or my personal favorite, Crashplan protect one’s data from disaster by backup up one’s files to the cloud automatically.  So if disaster strikes, all of one’s files are safe in the cloud. Backup services typically charge around $50-$60 annually per machine usually, so it can be more expensive than the one time expense of an external drive. Crashplan does offer a free plan for up to 2 GB of data which may be enough for the causal user. Crashplan also allows users to backup to friend’s computers for free as well, giving users the most amount of choice of backup options.

However, there are many advantages to backing up online such as the ability to access all one’s files remotely from any device by logging into their account and complete data protection that local backup doesn’t provide.   Online backup is growing as more work turns to the cloud, however some may have privacy concerns with putting all their data in the cloud. It is important to keep in mind that most backup services use some level of encryption to protect data. Another concern is online backup relies on a network connection so those with slower internet connection may take much longer to backup their data and to restore data in the event of data loss.

So which is the best backup? Personally, I use both I have a local back-up and cloud backup to get the best of both worlds and a stronger backup. In fact, Crashplan’s application can do both cloud and local backup. However, no matter what method one choses, the important thing is that they backup their data.

Also, don’t forget mobile devices. All mobile platforms offer some type of backup, iOS has automatic backup to iCloud and Android devices can backup to Google.  Mobile devices play a bigger part in our daily lives each passing day and are probably more at risk than a computer hard drive. Smartphones and tablets can be dropped, lost, stolen much more easily than a computer by size alone. In the event of data loss, it is much more difficult to recover data from the solid state memory used in smartphones and tablets than it is from traditional hard drives. Not having a backup of your digital life is like leaving your most valuable things on your front lawn, unprotected.

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