The hard drive is the part of the computer where all of your data is stored. Unfortunately, the hard drive is also the part of your computer which has the highest likelihood of breaking unexpectedly. As shown by a 2007 Google study (of hundreds of thousands of hard drives in their data center), there is a 36% chance that you will lose your data in any five-year period due to hard drive failure. Of course, a hard drive failure wouldn’t be a problem if you frequently backup your data.
Hard Drives Fail
There are numerous ways a hard drive can fail. These devices are comprised of multiple mechanical parts and they will eventually fail unexpectedly. As previously mentioned, more than one third of hard drives fail during a five year period. Aside from a manufacturing defect, the hard drive can also be damaged by malicious software, viruses, and power surges.
Unexpected Disasters Happen
An equally unexpected event would be a fire or other natural disaster affecting your computer. It sounds crazy but it’s not out of the question. In fact, if there is a fire at your house, your data might not burn, but it could be ruined by water as the firemen fight back the flames with water. People pay insurance premiums for the same reason that backups should be used. Insurance is a way to repair or replace your assets if they are damaged. Similarly, backups will restore your data assets if they have been destroyed.
Data Cannot be Salvaged
If you are not running backups, you are gambling with your data (i.e. priceless photos, videos, term papers, etc.). In the event of a failed or damaged hard drive, there is a small chance that the hard drive can be salvaged and the data recovered. However, the process to salvage a hard drive is typically complex and the results are unreliable. There are companies specializing in the data recovery business, but the process is often expensive and there are no guarantees. They may not be able to recover your data at all, but you won’t know that until you pay a few hundred dollars for an assessment. The easiest solution to avoiding a data crisis is to back up data before it becomes an issue.
How to Backup your Data
Check back for the next post in this series where I explain exactly how to setup your backup system. If you would like be automatically notified of new articles, sign up for the newsletter!