Computer Data Backup – 8 Lesser Known Reasons to Backup Your Data

by Mike McEvoy on July 14, 2010


Computer data backup isn’t one of the sexiest topics to talk about. Data backup may not be one of the most interesting things to discuss at a party. It’s a topic that sounds more like talking about car insurance to many people. But if you have ever experienced a crashed hard disk drive or experienced a lost or stolen laptop you may be painfully aware of the results of not having a full, recent backup of your important data.

Beyond the obvious impact of a hard disk drive crashing or a missing laptop there are a number of less obvious issues and factors that to consider when assessing the safety of your data. Recognizing these items in advance can help in planning your optimal data backup solution. Also be sure to see my previous post on 6 Common Computer Data Backup Mistakes.

Computer Data Backup Is a Good Thing

As the value of the data people are storing on their computers continues to grow the importance of implementing a solid data backup plan increases. Here is the short list of 8 lesser known reasons why you want to back up your data.

1.    Irreplaceable data – Your computer data is worth more than your hardware and software. While replacing your computer or your software can potentially be a significant cost many times your data cannot be replaced at any cost.  Frequently, items lost in a data disaster such as documents, email, photos, and videos cannot be recreated under any circumstances.

2.    Disk Drive Failure rate – Actual hard disk drive failure rates are much higher than most people are aware of.  While hard disk drive manufacturers quote items like a mean time between failure (MTBF) of zillions of hours, studies have shown that the actual hard disk drive failure rate during normal usage is much higher than quoted theoretical failure rates. Hard disk drives don’t live forever and can fail at some of the most inopportune times. As people hold on to their computers longer the likelihood of hard disk drive problems increase.

3.    Not knowing What You Lost — In a computer data disaster you might not even realize what you have lost until months or even years later. How many people really keep an inventory of what data is on their computer? Many lost data items won’t be obvious until you actually need them at some point in the future. In a business (especially a small business) this can have financial and legal ramifications.

4.    Data Reconstruction Costs – Sometimes computer data files can be reconstructed after a data disaster. QuickBooks or Quicken data can be re-entered from hard copy, music can be ripped from CD’s or downloaded from online stores, some email may still remain on an email server for downloading, and other items may be pieced together from various sources. All adding up to a time consuming, potentially costly, and imperfect restoration.

5.    Viruses, Malware and Intrusions – Aside from trying to steal computer data, malicious software can also create other significant problems. Viruses and malware, whether by design or by accident, are capable of corrupting data, corrupting or destroying operating system files, and in some cases even corrupting the files that control your hard disk drive thus rendering the drive inaccessible. Without a backup copy your computer data will be gone.

6.    Natural Disaster — this often sounds like hyperbole but these natural disasters impact data just like other portions of homes and businesses. Flooding, home & building fires, wild fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes do happen and do have direct, unforeseen impact on computer data.

7.    Children – If your computer is used by kids, especially younger kids, the chances of a computer data disaster increase. Children like to explore. They can click on just about anything, go to any web site and be completely unaware of things like viruses and spyware. Slightly older children may also know how to disable Internet security software if it interferes with their computer games or other online activity. Over time the impact from these activities can increase – see #5 above. Also add accidental deletion of files or folders by children into the potential data disaster mix.

8.    Lost or stolen computers – even if your computer is kept in excellent running condition a data disaster can occur when a computer is lost or stolen. While portable computer generally have the greatest chance of being lost or stolen, there are also plenty of examples of both desktop and portable computers being stolen from homes, school environments and businesses.

In previous posts I discussed computer data backup software, services and devices including:

  1. Online Data Backup Services – Factors to Consider When Choosing
  2. 6 Common Computer Data Backup Mistakes
  3. Data Backup Part I — Is Your Data Safe?

In the end computer data backup is like buying an insurance policy. You wouldn’t own a home or a car without insurance. Yet in some ways it is easier to replace a car than replacing your data. Make certain that you also insure your data.



Eren Mckay July 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Wow! What a comprehensive list of reasons to back up data. I have already done several backups but will be doing more and sending it over to my mom’s house in case there is a fire at my apartment. It is a lot of work to back everything up but so worth it in the end. This post is motivating.
All the best,

Mike McEvoy July 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hi Eren, glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

As you can tell from this and my earlier posts on data backup I’m a firm believer. With devices such as external hard disk drives or online backup solutions (or using both) the process is really pretty painless these days. Compared to cost of losing data or having to pay someone to retrieve data from an inaccessible hard disk drive, buying and using an external hard disk drive is a fraction of the cost.

advancedcomputertips December 24, 2010 at 7:56 am

the basic things i do once buying a computer is to partition its harddisk upon formating/installing OS into 3. one for system, one for all the files, one for clean system backup

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