- Within the last week
- Within the last month
- Within the last year
- I’m supposed to back up my computer?
Because the sample is so small, no statistician in the world would claim any kind of validity for those numbers. But a company called The Diffusion Group surveyed more than a thousand US households which have broadband internet and either already have or plan to get home networks and found that only 11.3% backed up every week, and the greatest number of respondents (37.8%) backed up only a couple of times per year. 16.4% never back up their data, and 6.6% don’t know how often (or whether) they back up.
Those are not encouraging figures, though they parallel other studies on the subject of backup. Most people don’t back up nearly often enough. The only good reason not to back up more than a couple of times of year would be that your data doesn’t change more than a couple of times a year, and it’s difficult to imagine a computer user who could claim that.
In fact, according to The Diffusion Group, the average home generated 322 GB of data in 2005, and they expect that number to grow to 1933 GB by 2010. This boggles my mind, since I don’t have 300 GB on all my hard drives and computers combined, but then, I’m not recording digital video and I don’t even take that many photographs. It’s actually not that hard to imagine creating that much data in a year, particularly for doting parents capturing everything their offspring do on the HandyCam.
Of those households that do back up, 88% use optical media (CDs or DVDs), 33% use external hard drives, 6% use an online backup service, and 17% back up over the network, either to a server or a Network Attached Storage device. (Yes, I know that adds up to more than 100%. Clearly some of the respondents make more than one kind of backup.)
This explosion in data generation leads TDG to conclude that “consumers will need a secure, non-PC-based platform on which to store the vast amounts of personal digital data created by these devices—a single storage platform that is networked and can share resources with both fixed and mobile PC and CE devices.” I have to say I find the new network-capable XHDs very attractive, and my brother is building a DIY NAS device to back up his photos of my niece and nephew.
Most existing options require some technical expertise on the part of the user, though not necessarily more than is needed to set up the home network in the first place. TDG sensibly emphasizes “storage equipment that is easy to use and fits into the normal cycle of daily PC and CE usage.” The most common reasons I’ve heard people give for not backing up are “It’s too complicated,” “It takes too much time,” and “I just forget,” so “easy” and “automated” are both important if the numbers of those who back up are going to improve.