I recently returned home from a networking meeting, ready to catch up on some email. I walked over to the computer and heard a repetitive clicking sound. I immediately anticipated that I may have had a hard drive failure. I did some investigation and my fears were confirmed. My hard drive had failed. Fortunately, I am reasonably diligent at backing up my drive, so I only lost about four hours of work. I, of course, needed to spend about a hundred dollars purchasing a new hard drive and a few days reinstalling the operating system, my modem, printers, browser, antivirus and other software packages. Without having the backup, I never would have fully recovered, of course.
The potential for losing important documents and photos is not limited to just hard drive failures. Data can also be lost due to:
- Computer viruses
- User errors
- Computer loss or theft
- Disasters such as fire and flood.
Back up Your Computer’s Hard Drive Regularly
Thus, backing up frequently is critical. There are several ways to do this. They include:
- Buying a backup service that copies all of your files up to “the cloud.” The advantages of doing this are that you are protected from forgetting to back up and in the event that your computer, home, office, etc. are all destroyed, your data is safe. The disadvantages are that backup and downloads may take a substantial amount of time, and if you make a user mistake and do not realize it, you may back up your mistake and lose the document you want to keep. You also incur an annual fee.
- Backing up your computer to a second hard drive in your home or office. The advantages of doing this are that backup is relatively fast and once you buy the backup device you own it. You may set the device to constantly back up, in which case you won’t forget to do your backups, but you could back up a virus or a user error, wiping out your valuable data and photos. You might, instead, do an antivirus scan of your computer and then do backups of the entire drive when your computer is not is use. Your risk of backing up a virus or a user error is minimized, but you might not do backups. Also, your home or office could be damaged by fire, theft, or other natural disaster. Additionally, there is a slim possibility of a power surge damaging both the computer and backup system which could ruin both copies. To protect yourself from this in between backups, send important files to yourself on email or place them on a thumb drive.
I, personally, do my own backups, but I protect myself from a catastrophic loss in the event of an unlikely power surge, etc. by having two backup drives and alternating which one I use. Of course, I would lose some data, but not too much if I lost my computer and the drive it was backing up to. I also backup my system on a smaller hard drive which I store in the safe deposit box at the bank, protecting myself against theft or other natural disaster at my house. I have a second small drive as well, so I can backup and bring one drive to the bank and pick the other one up at the same time. My vulnerability is if both the bank and my house were to disappear. If that were to happen, I’m not sure if I would care.
In my recent hard drive scenario, why did I lose 4 hours of editing? Because I was a bit sloppy and did not back up some files by emailing them to myself, but in the whole scheme of things I consider that loss very minor.
Ron would like to thank Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.