How Much Data Can You Afford To Lose?

It is astounding how many people say the can't afford to lose any data and at the same time they are doing little or nothing about backing up their data. The same people who say the data on their PC's is critical, will also say that they aren't doing much to backup their data. Furthermore, most of these people are aware that "stuff happens" that can destroy their data.

What happens if you lose your data? Lost productivity? Business impact? Costly manual recovery? Months of inconvenience while you keep finding reasons why you wish you hadn't lost your data? Re-downloading/Repurchasing MP3's that you paid for once already? What about the loss of all of your digital photos that cannot be replaced? In a lot of cases the answer is "All of the above".

Ok, so you are aware of this and you are part of the 50% of people who do occasionally make backup copies of some of there files. How often are you making those backups? I talked to a gentleman this week who copies his important data to a CD about once a month. I translate that to mean that he is willing to bear the consequences of losing a months worth of data. You know that Murphy's Law requires that your hard-drive crash at the worst possible time, like when your data hasn't been backed up in 30 days.

Do you ever forget to do your backup? That really encourages Mr. Murphy. Sometimes I think it's like the weather, if you take your umbrella to a ball game it will not rain, but leave it at home and you're gonna get wet. Just keep skipping that backup and see what happens. Instead of losing a few days worth of data, you're gonna lose a few months worth. But, your old obsolete stuff will be safely backed up somewhere.

I suppose you know what I am getting at. The frequency of your backups should be proportional to the amount of data you can afford to lose. Murphy doesn't care if you just forgot to backup or if you had plans to back it up tomorrow. If it's not backed up, then kiss it good-bye forever. Most of you will probably want your data backed up everyday, but you are not willing to go to the expense and hassle of changing the media everyday. And even if you are willing to do that, mistakes will be made; media will not get changed everyday, media will get over-written, you will run out of cd's or dvd's and a variety of other things will happen that will screw up your best backup plans. Just remember, Murphy is watching and waiting for the best opportunity to zap your data when it will hurt the most.

Now that I have laid out the ugly reality of backups and losing data, I want to offer a solution. First of all you have to automate your backups. I mean automate everything. Don't leave any room for a manual mistake to invite Murphy over to hit you where it hurts. The only practical way to accomplish a fully automated backup is with an Online Backup Service. If you're thinking that Online Backup is too expensive, then think again, Online Backup can be less expensive than buying backup devices and media. And far less expensive than losing data. If you think Online Backup is too complicated, then you may be surprised to find out that it is far easier to setup and use than any other form of backup. If you are concerned about the security of your data when backed up to an Online Backup Service provider, then consider that most online backup providers offer data encryption that makes your data much safer than it would be on a CD in your desk drawer.

You may be concerned about the amount of space you would need to backup that huge hard drive you have. It is not practical to backup hundreds of gigabytes to an online backup service provider. That would be too expensive and the time it would take to move the data is prohibitive. In most cases the online backup service can be effective at backing up your documents, photos, and data in a reasonable amount of space, and in a reasonable amount of time, while the cost is still relatively low compared to other backup methods. I recommend that you use an online backup service for your daily work, letters, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, mp3's and email files. You may also want to burn a DVDs on occasion if you are collecting video or movies.

If you are like me, and can't afford to lose your data, then make sure the files that you create and modify everyday are backed-up. I use an Online Backup Service and my data is backed up daily without fail. I don't have to think about backing up, I don't have to change any media, I don't have any mistakes screwing up my backup. Murphy is going to have look at someone else's computer because there is no opportunity here. Will it be yours?

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