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Backup! Backup! Backup!

Author: Jon Pearse

The most important advice that I would offer, for both personal and professional computers, would be, Backup! Backup! Backup!.


I have heard the familiar story many times; “My computer crashed and my family photos are on it”. When asked if they have a backup of the data, the response is often a quiet, “no”.


A global data backup survey covering 6149 respondents from 128 countries was conducted by between January and April last year. In summary, the survey found that people neglect doing proper backups for their home PCs, putting their valuable data at unnecessary risk. Over 89% of the respondents do not perform regular backups, and of these people, 76.6% have suffered from data loss. Yet, 91.3% of respondents surveyed believe that backups are important. These numbers are astounding. The major reasons why backups are neglected are as follows;

  • 13.8% - Did not know how to perform proper regular backups.
  • 39.6% - Believe that data loss would not happen to them.
  • 32.7% - Were too lazy to perform regular backups.
  • 13.9% - Cited cost as a reason why they did not do backups.


The capacity/price ratio of hard drive data storage has improved dramatically over the years. A 500 gigabyte (GB) USB hard drive can be purchased for about $100.00 these days. This seems a small price to pay for the security of irreplaceable photos or documents.


On a larger scale, magnetic tape systems have long been the most commonly used media for many organisations data backup system. However, since the hard disk capacity/price ratio has improved, hard drive storage for back up purposes is becoming more competitive with magnetic tape technologies. Another area becoming popular is ‘online storage’. However, online storage comes with its own set of risks and security issues which need to be investigated.


Putting types of backup systems aside, a key question which should be asked of both home users and Information Officers is, “when did you or your organisation last test your backup system?” In terms of business, there are many organisations who have implemented backup systems, only to find later, that they cannot restore their data. Occasionally a backup system can report that the backup was successful, sometimes for months, but for an unknown reason the data cannot be restored. 


The key part of any backup solution, whether at home or in business, is to make sure you can access and restore your backed up data.


The best course of action against data loss is to have a recent backup. However, if a backup is unavailable, our Forensic Technology team can assist with accessing the possibility of data recovery. For more information on backups or data recovery, please contact Jon Pearse or Barry Foster.


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