I asked one of my readers what I should write about today, and she suggested a reminder about why it is we need to make backups. As it happens, I collected a number of statistics for my presentation to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology last week, so I have them handy—and they are indeed sobering.
Every 15 seconds, another hard drive crashes.
And when I say “crash,” here, I don’t mean those cases where your machine mysteriously freezes up or you get a Blue Screen of Death but your computer is fine when you reboot it. I mean “crash” in the literal sense, where one of the moving parts of your drive has crashed into another moving part and is chewing its way through the disk and sending your data to permanent oblivion. All those virtual bits and bytes still depend on a physical medium to hold them.
You can usually tell when your computer has had this kind of crash, because the drive starts making strange noises. (You can hear some of them on the Data Recovery Net website.) This is akin to the horrible noises that your car starts making if something goes seriously wrong with the engine, though you may not actually see smoke coming out of your PC tower.
1 in 5 computers suffers a fatal hard drive crash during its lifetime.
Given that the lifetime of an ordinary computer is five years at the outside, that means this will almost certainly happen to one of your own computers over the course of your lifetime.
The other four computers will die of something else, like the power supply problem that put paid to my previous laptop.
The overall average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100%—all drives eventually fail.
Not only that, hard drives have a much higher failure rate than they used to. And even if it’s not the drive that goes, you’re going to need to be able to move your data from one computer to another when your current machine stops working or becomes so obsolete that you might as well not have a computer.
60% of companies that lose their data close down within 6 months of the disaster.
These days it’s all but impossible to run a business without a computer. Even the local laundry keeps its client records and invoices on a computer, and there are very few hairdressers, bodyworkers, housecleaners, or home care workers who don’t rely on the internet to find and communicate with clients. Even those few who don’t own computers rely on people who do, like accountants and designers.
Recreating data from scratch is estimated to cost between $2000 and $8000 per MB.
Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed.
Those two figures go a long way toward explaining why so many companies that lose their data shut down. Replacing hardware costs money, but not as much as replacing or retrieving data. If you’re a one-person, one-computer business, the drive recovery attempt may run you in the hundreds rather than the thousands (and some companies won’t charge if they don’t get your data back), but it’s still going to cost you a lot more than an external hard drive will. And the time cost for you or your employees to re-create and re-enter your data makes the costs for data recovery (which start at around $200/hr) look trivial.
40% of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses don’t back up their data at all.
Given the figures I’ve quoted above, this is roughly akin to playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber. Somewhere along the line, you’re going to suffer a severe hardware failure. The only thing that prevents hardware failure from turning into data loss is backups—regular, frequent backups that you check for validity and label clearly.
Remember: your business data is your responsibility. Back up early. Back up often.