The Importance of Data Backup

Computers are amazing. They allow us to shop without having to leave the house, work more effectively and intelligently, keep in touch with friends, network with business contacts, store information, catalogue photos...........the list is almost endless.

However what happens when you computer fails? We can say for certain that all computers or their components will fail eventually, unfortunately what we don’t know is when.

How many of us can say that both their work and home computers are fully backed up and that all your important information is safe and secure should your computer decide to go pop.

What are the main causes of data loss?

There are a lot of potential ways to lose information from your computer, some of the most common are;

  • Damage to the hard disk
  • Electrical damage due to sudden voltage fluctuation
  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Theft
  • Sabotage
  • Viruses
  • Incompetence

It is generally at the point just after one of the above ‘accidents’ has occurred that most people begin to appreciate the importance of data backup.

What options are there for data backup?

Today there are many good, reliable, safe and inexpensive methods of data backup available for both, home and business users. Some of the more common options are tape drives, tape libraries, CD-R’s, CD-RW’s, and DVDs. More recently storage has gone small with some USB backup devices being no bigger than a piece of gum.

External USB drives currently offer the most convenient and simplest method of backup for small to moderate amounts of data. Prices start from as low as £50 for a device with 500gb storage capacity.

There are also several remote backup sites available on the internet. For a monthly fee an online storage service will provide space and allow you to upload files directly to their server.

The advantages are ease of access and off-site storage which means your data is kept safe in a different location to your computer protecting against damage caused by flooding or fire for example.

Most of these services make great efforts ensure your date is safe. They build multiple safeguards into their systems to handle issues such a power failures and viruses.

And don’t forget even Windows offers restore points in the event your computer becomes corrupted. This effectively turns back the clock until a point before the corruption occurred. It is worth checking your settings and ensuring that you create a restore point every day.

A Backup Plan

This may sound OTT but everyone should have back up plan for their data. The frequency of your back up depends on how quickly the data on you system becomes outdated. If you’re a business that is reliant on data then you may choose to back up on an hourly basis. A home user may choose to do so on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Once you have determined frequency then you will need to decide on the capacity of your data backup device and whether you will need to store information off site to protect against natural disasters.


Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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