- 1. Your backup strategy is to burn CDs and DVDs.
A diamond may be forever, but CDs and DVDs have a shelf-life. Even the Optical Storage Technology Association says an unrecorded disk will only last five to 10 years. And this assumes you’ve selected the right files and remember to do it, which brings me to reasons #2 and #3.
- 2. Your backup strategy requires picking which files to backup.
If you’re like most people, you actually have no idea where your files are. Wait, you’re not like most people—you absolutely select which folders you put your files in. But some applications save files in random places. Have any idea where your iTunes playlists are? Hint: They’re not in My Documents. Windows hides folders. Vista forces older applications into a hidden sandbox. You probably know where most of your files are… but some files you care about are almost certainly somewhere else.
- 3. Your backup strategy is manual.
“I should go to the gym. I should eat right. I should back up.” Right. You’re busy and remembering to constantly back up your computer is not high on your list. Did you do your last backup yesterday? Or a month ago? Oops.
- 4. Your backup strategy is to copy files to an external USB drive.
Prices have plummeted and external drive sales have shot through the roof over the last few years. Think these drives are foolproof? Google drive testing has shown that nearly one in 10 drives die per year. And that does not include your cat knocking the drive off your table and then you tossing it in your laptop bag.
- 5. Your backup strategy is to send yourself emails.
With 6GB per Gmail account, if I just create five accounts and send myself all my documents, photos, and music files, I can back up everything to email. But each email is limited to 25MB, so I can only send a couple files at a time. I have 15,000 files so if it takes me just 20 seconds to send an email with three files attached, it will take me 28 hours to send all the emails. Have files over 25MB? Can’t send those at all. And when my drive dies and I need to do a complete restore? Want to try clicking through 5,000 email messages and downloading and organizing the files from each?
- 6. Your backup strategy is RAID.
I save a file and it immediately gets written to two drives in my computer. Good way to deal with single drive failure. But it can’t help you with the dropped laptop, stolen PC, blown water heater, rampant virus, and “oops, I didn’t mean to hit delete” data losses.
- 7. Your backup strategy is FTP to a hosted service.
Have a website and not using all your space? Want to just FTP your files there for backup? Turns out most hosting services don’t like that… and might just delete your files. Ask the CTO of Ziff Davis about that experiment.
- 8. Your backup strategy is an online storage service.
There are a plethora of good online storage services that enable you to upload files. But there is a big difference between storage and backup. If you have to manually pick which files to store—that’s not a backup—and likely to not have the pictures of your super-cute-newborn-with-a-face-only-a-mother-can-love when you need them back.
- 9. Your backup strategy is not to have anything important on your PC.
You might read this and say “Huh, but my life is on my PC.” Yes, but not everyone has a 3G card plugged directly into their cranium. But if you’re one of those who think you have nothing of importance, I ask you, what do you do on your computer? Unless you only browse the web—you have data that is important to you. Use TurboTax? Quicken? Microsoft Money? Copies of your resume? Your contacts or calendar? Chances are if your computer croaked, you would be bummed.
- 10. Your backup strategy is that your work backs up your PC.
Using your work laptop to store your personal documents. No problem. But counting on them to be backed up? Good luck. Most companies don’t back up laptops and desktops (just servers). If they do back them up, they typically exclude personal files such as music and photos. And even if they try to backup your files, according to Enterprise Storage Group, 60% of the time, those backups fail.
- 11. And one extra… Your backup strategy is to pray.
Hope? Luck? Chance? Praying? Counting on any of these to protect your precious data sitting on a single disk spinning at 7,200 revolutions per minute and experiencing acceleration of 250 g’s? I hope you’re pretty lucky.
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