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William George (Product Development)

Please, please, please - backup your data!

Written on November 13, 2015 by William George
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Image copyright by Peter Steinfeld, 1996          Image copyright by Peter Steinfeld, 1996

One of the most painful things to hear about from a customer is lost data. Whether it is hours or days of lost work for a business, irreplaceable family photos, or important financial records - data loss hurts. And it can be caused by many things: viruses / malware, file system corruption, physical drive failure, theft, fire, flood… the list goes on. Unfortunately some people don’t think about this till it is too late, so I am here with a public safety announcement:

Please, please, please - backup your data!

There are lots of ways to backup files, and lots of options for where to store those backups. I will cover several of those in another blog post, in a couple of weeks, but here I wanted to talk more about the ‘why’ than the ‘how’. So why should you do regular backups?

- Because some things cannot be replaced. Digital photos you’ve taken only exist digitally, unless you also print them out. Even then, printed copies are not as good as the original digital files: you could scan them, but the resulting quality will never match the original. Likewise, any number of other file types could be hard or impossible to replace if you don’t have more than one copy: financial records, lengthy research papers or dissertations, home videos, and the list goes on.

- Because reloading your OS and software takes a lot of time. If you only backup your data / files, or simply don’t care about your data, a drive failure or other catastrophe could still require reloading the operating system and applications you use. The latest versions of Windows install pretty quickly, but then require many updates to bring them up to current status - plus most of us use dozens of different programs, each of which has to be installed. If you make a backup of your whole primary drive, though, all of those things are included - and simply restoring from your backup will get you back up and running quickly. This minimizes downtime and loss of use / profitability (in a business) as well.

- Because some data changes regularly. If you only backup every few weeks or months, then you could lose any new things you’ve downloaded, new programs or updates, files you have created or added to, etc. It is better to base the frequency of updates on how often your important files and programs change. For some people this really might only be monthly, but for most folks I would say weekly or even daily is best.

I’m sure there are more reasons than that, but hopefully at least one of those hits home and inspires you to adopt a regular backup plan (if you don’t have one already). If you aren’t sure of how to set up a backup, or what different options are available and most appropriate for your situation, stay tuned! I will be back in a couple weeks with another post going into more detail.

Tags: backup, data, files, operating system, loss, failure
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