Saturday, March 6, 2010

Do you Back Up?

The estimated annual failure rate of hard drives is typically believed to be around 3%.  This means that if you put 33 people in a room, with computers of any age, at least one of them will loose all of the data and programs saved on their computer this year.  The truth is, the part that stores your data, your hard drive, is one of the most likely components in your computer to fail.  Because they spin at such a high speed and are extremely sensitive to shock, your hard drive will often give out long before the remainder of you computer does.

If you are lucky, you will get a clicking sound or other warning signs.  If you are not lucky, you will walk up to your computer one day and everything will be gone.  It sounds scary, but it doesn't have to be.  In fact, it is March and I have already had 2 hard drives on personal computers go this year, but I have not lost a file.  If I were to walk into your house today and replace your computer with one of my own, how would you feel about your data?  If you would worry about losing any files or programs on your computer, you should probably seriously reconsider how you are backing up.  While I hope no one is going to be walking off with your computer any time soon, a dead hard drive has the very real potential to bring your computer back to the day you bought it.

Like most things worth discussing, there is not one right answer here.  I would categorize backups into 3 levels: file, system and network.  This coming week, I will explore examples of each and hopefully help find one that is right for you.  The key to any good back up is that it should be stored physically separate from your computer and you should be able to recover what you need with minimal effort.  The things to consider are cost, labor, the amount of data and how often your data changes.  Keep these factors in mind and your decision will be simple.  Now take a deep breath and hope that your hard drive will make it through the week.

1 comment:

  1. To illustrate your daughters school PC (2yrs old) hard drive failed over the weekend. There were signs (sluggish response)but she did not mention them until it was too late. Of course we had NO backups (classic "It will never happen to me syndrome"). Also discovered that we were suppose to have made our own recovery CDs (assumed they were in the big plastic bag of manuals and driver CD's). Ugh!

    Will be reading with great interest your take on best backup practices.