Is your computer data safe? Have you checked recently? Most people have an awareness of the potential danger in losing their computer data. They sense that as the amount of computer data they generate and store continues to grow rapidly, the importance of keeping that data safe also increases. How people address the safety of their data varies widely. Based on years of firsthand observation and experience here are 6 common computer data backup mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Not having a computer data backup device or plan to begin with.
“What data backup?” This is commonly spoken by the eternal optimist, the person who believes that “It will never happen to me.” Right up until their laptop is lost or stolen at the airport or when they hear loud grinding sound coming from their hard disk drive indicating a possible mechanical failure and a high probability of data loss.
Mistake #2: Not verifying the accuracy of your system backup periodically.
“I think all my computer data got backed up.” Most of the time when using quality backup software and hardware everything works as planned. But not 100% always. So it’s a good idea to check your backed up data periodically and make sure the data you think you backed up is actually where it should be. This reality check can save you from some very unpleasant surprises in an emergency. Finding out that your computer backup is incomplete when it is most needed is not a very enjoyable experience.
Mistake #3: Only backing up part of your important computer data.
“I only need to back up the My Documents folder.” Many Windows users gain a false sense of security knowing that they are religiously backing up the My Documents folder and all its subfolders like My Pictures and My Music. Many of these same people also store lots of data on the Windows’ Desktop which is not located in the My Documents folder. Or they use Microsoft Outlook which does not store its data in My Documents. Or use Quicken/QuickBooks which do not store data in My Documents. Similarly, Internet Explorer Favorites and Firefox Bookmarks are also stored in locations outside of the My Documents folder.
Mistake #4: Not understanding the limitations of your computer data backup system.
“I do everything online.” This is spoken by the person who feels that all their computer data is safe with the online data backup service they use. They don’t realize that the 600MB of photos, the 800MB video and the 200MB from two, large, graphics intensive presentation files that had been added to their computer yesterday created a problem. This influx of new files amounted to 1.6GB of data to back up. Yet due to a low bandwidth (slow) Internet connection the amount of data that could be transferred over their Internet connection is limited to 800MB per day – even less if the computer is turned off at night. The 1.6GB of new data could take days to get backed up across the Internet to the online repository. It’s important to be sure your computer backup system is matched to your data storage and backup needs. Be sure to check out our post Online Data Backup Services – Factors to Consider When Choosing
Mistake #5: Not being consistent with a computer backup plan and schedule.
“I only need to back up my data once a month or when I get around to it” This is a common refrain – right until the first hard disk crash or the repeated Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) or the lost/stolen computer. Your computer data changes more frequently than you may realize and the more effort it takes to back up your data, the less likely it will get backed up. There is a rapid learning curve that people go through regarding the value of their computer data when that data is all suddenly gone and they don’t have a current, accessible backup copy. Learning this way can be expensive. Hmm, let’s see, $90 for a 500GB external backup hard disk drive or $500 – $4,000 for a data recovery service to retrieve your computer data from a corrupted or damaged hard drive.
Mistake #6: Not choosing the right tool for the right job.
“I can just use a Flash Memory drive to back up my system.” Seems reasonable. They are small, fast, easy to transport, and have no moving parts. Flash memory drives (aka memory stick, USB key, thumb drive, etc.) do seem appealing, especially now that they are readily available in capacities up to 64GB or more. They are also easy to lose, can be easily broken or crushed, are not physically designed for long term data storage, and can be easily transported by people who shouldn’t have access to your computer data. Plus you still need to purchase reliable backup software to get your data to the backup device.
In an earlier post, “Data Backup Part 1” I presented a more strategic look at the question of why it’s a good idea to back up your data. It’s worth checking out this earlier post for a bigger picture view of data backup. The 6 Common Data Backup Mistakes explained above address more tactical issues. There are many different solutions for protecting and backing up your important computer data, but the key is still the consistent use and management of whatever computer data backup solution you choose.
Loss of data can cause many problems including lost information, financial loss, loss of irreplaceable personal data (photos, videos), lost productivity, lost sales and lost opportunities. A bit of planning and consistency will go a long way in helping you avoid these 6 computer data backup mistakes along with a host of other problems if your data goes missing. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.