The 2022 Backup Survey: 54% Report Data Loss With Only 10% Backing Up Daily

Every June, for Backup Awareness Month, we work with The Harris Poll to gauge the state of backups in the U.S. This is the 14th year of that survey, where we ask simply: “How often do you back up all the data on your computer?”

On occasion, we’ll throw some additional questions into the mix as well, and this year we focused on the confusion we often see between sync and backup services, along with respondents’ history of data loss. The backup frequency results of this year’s survey show that trends are holding pretty steady, but the rest of the results…very interesting!

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How Backup Frequency Is Trending in 2022

When looking solely at backup frequency, the results are mostly neutral this year when compared to 2021. We see a slight 1% increase in computer owners that are backing up on a yearly basis, but that same 1% decrease in those that are backing up daily. The rest of the results were pretty consistent from year to year.

The main issue we’re seeing here is that the number of computer owners who have never backed up their computer appears to have stopped decreasing, meaning that about 20% of people are still at risk of losing all of their data in the event of a computer crash or loss.

Results are among computer owners.

Some people aren’t into reading charts, so we also have this handy table:

Results are among computer owners.

If you’re not a fan of tables, but do like pie, here’s a comparison of the 2022 data compared to when we first started in 2008:

It’s nice to see the mix changing so much over time, especially with the “never” category fading. While the number of daily backups is still not anywhere close to where we’d like it, the data indicates that:

Overall, computer owners are backing up more frequently than a decade ago. However, as our astute readers know, the longer you go without creating a backup, the more data you are prone to losing should disaster strike.

Who’s “Best” at Backing Up?

Last year, we pored through the data to try and build a “profile” of the person who was most likely to be a “backer upper,” which we had defined as a person who owns a computer and backs it up at least once a day. What we found is that we were looking for:

  • A woman between 35-44 years of age (21% likely to back up versus 9% of those 18-34 and 6% of those 55-64)…
  • Who lives in the Western United States (17% more likely to back up vs. the South and Midwest at 9% and 7%, respectively)…
  • With a household income of over $100K (13% likely to back up their data versus those households of $50K-$74.9K which are at 6%).

Has that changed over the last year? Well, in 2022, the data suggest no statistically significant deviations that we can pull out, so maybe that’s good news across the spectrum?

Is Confusion a Cause for Concern?

While the number of people backing up at least once is good, we think there might still be some confusion in the world about how exactly they are backing up their data and what is getting backed up. We wanted to dive a bit deeper. When looking at the Americans who own a computer:

  • 80% backed up all the data on that computer at least once.
    • 41% of those folks fully back it up once a month or more often.
  • 57% who have ever backed up use a “cloud-based” system as their primary backup.
  • 12% of computer owners use a cloud backup service like Backblaze as their primary backup, and among those who do:
    • 52% say their service automatically backs up all the data on their computer.
    • 25% say it backs up only the data they select with no limitations.
    • 9% say it backs up only the data they select but with some limits.
    • 3% marked “other” and more concerningly…
    • 10% are not sure at all.

    With 57% of computer owners using “the cloud” to back up their data, but only 12% of those using a cloud backup service, we’re left to wonder, what are the others using? In many cases, it’s a cloud drive or cloud sync service which may not actually be performing basic automated backup tasks.

    Refresher: Backup vs. Sync

    We’ve often discussed the differences between sync and backup—how both of them are useful tools, but very different. While sync services are great for collaborating on and sharing data, they are not true backup services in that they’re typically not automated, and don’t provide the same level of protection as dedicated backup services can. And, be careful about only having data in one location—44% lost access to their data when a shared or synced drive was deleted. For more information, read our cloud backup vs. cloud sync blog post!

    Even of those using a proper cloud backup solution, 48% may not be backing up all their data, and 10% of folks aren’t sure at all what their cloud backup service is doing. Yikes.

    We then asked those who use one of the listed backups (i.e., “the cloud,” external hard drive, or NAS) about their confidence level that the service they use is set up to protect all the data on their computer, and 61% of people were not very confident. The numbers are broken down below:

    • 39% were very confident.
    • 48% were somewhat confident.
    • 13% were not at all or not very confident.

    That’s not a ton of confidence, and maybe now is a good time to remind folks to check their backups and to test a restore!

    Why Is Backing Up Important?

    This year’s survey results continue to show us that having a good backup strategy in place, whether for a business or an individual, is a great way to mitigate against different data disasters. Especially when you consider that of Americans who own a computer:

    • 67% report accidentally deleting something.
    • 54% report having lost data.
    • 53% were affected by a security incident.
    • 48% had an external hard drive crash.
      • 21% of those crashes have happened in the last year.
    • 44% lost access to their data when a shared drive or synced drive was deleted.

    External hard drives are a great local backup method, and we recommend them when we discuss having a 3-2-1 backup strategy, but as our own Hard Drive Stats indicate, even in our professional environment, they do fail. And with 48% of computer owners reporting that they experienced a similar failure on their home device, it underscores the importance of having an off-site backup like Backblaze, just in case.

    With over half of computer owners reporting a security incident as well and ransomware on the rise, there’s never been a more appropriate time to start backing up your computer. At Backblaze, we’re on a mission to make storing and using your data astonishingly easy, and we invite you to give our services a try!

    Survey Method:
    This year’s survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Backblaze from May 19-23, 2022, among 2,068 adults ages 18+, among whom 1,861 own a computer. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

    Prior year’s surveys were conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Backblaze among U.S. adults ages 18+ who own a computer in May 12-14, 2021 (n=1,870); June 1-3, 2020 (n=1,913); June 6-10, 2019 (n=1,858); June 5-7, 2018 (n=1,871); May 19-23, 2017 (n=1,954); May 13-17, 2016 (n=1,920); May 15-19, 2015 (n=2,009); June 2-4, 2014 (n=1,991); June 13–17, 2013 (n=1,952); May 31–June 4, 2012 (n=2,176); June 28–30, 2011 (n=2,209); June 3–7, 2010 (n=2,051); May 13–14, 2009 (n=2,154); and May 27–29, 2008 (n=2,723).

    For complete survey methodologies, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Backblaze.


    About Yev

    Yev Pusin is the senior director of Marketing and sometimes Marketing chief of staff at Backblaze, which he joined in 2011. Yev has a degree in business and communications from the University of Iowa, where he developed an alliteration affinity. Yev enjoys writing in an amusing way about the "why" of things and how decisions are made, so that readers can learn and be entertained all at once. Follow Yev on: Twitter: @YevP | LinkedIn: Yev Pusin