Backup Awareness Survey, Our 10th Year

Backup Awareness

This is the 10th year Backblaze has designated June as Backup Awareness Month. It is also the 10th year of our annual Backup Awareness Survey. Each year, the survey has asked the question, “How often do you back up all of the data on your computer?” As they have done since the beginning, the good folks at Harris Interactive have conducted the survey, captured and tabulated the answers, and provided us with the results. Let’s take a look at what 10 years worth of surveys can tell us about computer backup.

Computer Backup Awareness Survey

Let’s start with 2017 and see how computer owners answered our question.

Computer Data Backup Frequency

The most popular answer is “Yearly” at 26.3%. The least popular choice was “Daily” at just 9.3%. The difference between those two extremes can be easily calculated in days, but consider how much more data would be lost if you had backed up 364 days ago versus just 23 hours ago. How many photos, videos, spreadsheets, tax documents, and more would be lost when your computer crashed, or was stolen, or was attacked by ransomware like Wannacry or Cryptolocker. The longer the time between backups, the higher the risk of losing data.

Backup Trends Over the Last 10 Years

With 10 years worth of data, we have the opportunity to see if attitudes, or more appropriately actions, have changed with regards to how often people back up their data.

Historical Computer Backup Rate

In general, more people seem to be backing up as all of the individual backup periods; daily, weekly, monthly, etc., are either the same or increasing their individual percentages over time. The chart below highlights the good news.

Computer Backup Trends

We are winning! Over the 10-year period, more people are backing up all the data on their computer, at least once. From a low of 62% in 2008, the percentage of people who have backed up their computer has risen to 79% in 2017, a 27% increase over 10 years. OK, so it’s not amazing growth, but we’ll take it.

Facts and Figures and History

Each survey provides interesting insights into the attributes of backup fiends and backup slackers. Here are a few facts from the 2017 survey.

  • 91% of Americans don’t back up their computers at least once a day.
  • 21% of Americans have never backed up all the data on their computers.
  • 17% of American males have never backed up all the data on their computers.
  • 25% of American females have never backed up all the data on their computers.
  • 97% of American students (18+) that have a computer, don’t back it up daily.
  • 87% of American college graduates that have a computer, don’t back it up daily—I guess that 10% of them learned something in college.

As we get older, we back up more often…

Age Range Back Up Daily
18-34 6%
35-44 8%
45-54 11%
55-64 11%
65 plus 12%

Here are links to our previous blog posts on our annual Backup Awareness Survey:

Backup Awareness Month

Why a whole month for backup awareness? There’s a theory in human behavior that says in order for something to become a habit, you have to do it consistently for at least three weeks. To make backing up your computer a habit, remind yourself each day in June to back up your computer. Tie a string around your finger or set a reminder on your phone, whatever it takes so that you remember to back up your computer each day in June. Of course, the three-week theory is considered unproven and “your mileage may vary,” but at least you’ll be backed up during the month of June.

Maybe, instead of trying to create a new daily backup habit, perhaps you could use a computer application. I’ll bet if you looked hard enough, you could find a computer program for your Mac or PC that would automatically remember to back up your computer each day—or even more often. That would awesome, right? Yes, it would.

Survey Methodology:
The surveys were conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Backblaze as follows: May 19-23, 2017 among 2,048 U.S. adults; May 13-17, 2016 among 2,012 U.S. adults; May 15-19, 2015 among 2,090 U.S. adults; June 2-4, 2014 among 2,037 U.S. adults; June 13–17, 2013 among 2,021 U.S. adults; May 31–June 4, 2012 among 2,209 U.S. adults; June 28–30, 2011 among 2,257 U.S. adults; June 3–7, 2010 among 2,071 U.S. adults; May 13–14, 2009 among 2,185 U.S. adults; and May 27–29, 2008 among 2,761 U.S. adults. In all surveys, respondents consisted of U.S. adult computer users (aged 18+), weighted to the U.S. adult population of computer users. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


About Andy Klein

Andy Klein is the Principal Cloud Storage Storyteller at Backblaze. He has over 25 years of experience in technology marketing and during that time, he has shared his expertise in cloud storage and computer security at events, symposiums, and panels at RSA, SNIA SDC, MIT, the Federal Trade Commission, and hundreds more. He currently writes and rants about drive stats, Storage Pods, cloud storage, and more.