When you work in the world of data recovery, you learn one thing very quickly: people consistently underestimate how valuable their data is on both a financial and sentimental level.
Owing, no doubt, to the fact that storage media is extremely reliable, both commercial and personal users forget that, whilst their technology is expensive, its value pales in comparison to that of the data held on it. This all changes when it fails and they’re no longer able to access that vital spreadsheet of leads or their portfolio of previous work – when this happens, they’re desperate to get it back and will pay substantial fees to do so; substantial fees that could have been avoided if they’d taken a few minutes to back up their data.
Backing up is easy
Many people forego the process of backing up their data because of their busy lives and the fact that, in order to keep the costs of a backup drive as low as possible, they’ll need to go through their files and determine what they want to keep. This, people claim, is too time-consuming and that their free time is too precious to waste on such a task when the likelihood of failure is so slim. Both arguments are deeply flawed.
All storage media will fail at some point and we all know which files we access on a regular basis. As far as the process of reviewing your data being too time-consuming goes, we all know which files we access on a regular basis so, if you’re short on time you can simply back these up and review all of your files when you have some time on your hands. Then, should your primary storage fail, you’ll at least have a copy of your most beloved files to hand.
Choosing the right device
When selecting what storage media to use for your backups there are two things you need to consider: capacity and cost.
Any device that you choose will need to be capable of storing the files that you want to copy and also have a reasonably large surplus of remaining space to store any additional files that you may create in the future. In order to determine what you’ll need, you should move all of the files you want to backup into a single folder. Once this has been done, you’ll be able to check its size and determine what capacity drive you’ll require for your backups. Once you know this, you’ll be able to determine if something like an inexpensive flash drive will meet your needs or if you should spend that bit more on something like an external HDD.
Alternatively, the Cloud – a series of servers and data centres located around the world – will provide you with several GBs of storage for free – all you have to do is create an account. If you ever need more storage, you can purchase additional space (for a nominal monthly fee) at any time. As any files you store in the cloud will effectively be stored online, you’ll be able to access them from anywhere provided you have access to the internet.
One piece of advice I’d offer is to avoid higher-speed drives such as SSDs. They’re considerably more expensive and, as there is little benefit to having a backup drive with impressive read/write speeds, you’d simply be wasting your money.
A cautionary tale
We know that you’re probably thinking that data loss is so unlikely that backing up your data isn’t worth the time or effort, but I can assure that data loss can and does happen. What’s more, I’ve seen first-hand just how harmful it can be financially and emotionally.
From people who’ve lost photos and videos of their most precious memories such as their honeymoon or their child’s first steps, to businesses owners whose bottom lines suffered irreparable damage, I’ve seen data loss cause immense damage – damage that could so easily have been avoided.
The morale of this story is simple: it may be unlikely, but data loss is so destructive that backups must be conducted.
Jay Williams work for the hard drive recovery experts Fields Data Recovery and lives in Cardiff, Wales with his wife and two-year-old daughter.