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When it comes to data, loss can be fatal

May 9th, 2010 1 comment

Hard drive with sensitive dataToday’s blog post is not so much about how to market manufactured housing online as it is about saving your precious marketing data from being lost.

Yesterday, I had a call from a client whose hard drive hard recently crashed and had to be replaced. In addition to all of the time-consuming chores associated with a hard drive replacement, she had some very important emails that were now missing. Crucial emails, I should say.

Needless to say, she had never backed-up her data and now those crucial emails and the potential business they contained were lost.

A recent study from Gartner, Inc., found that 90 percent of companies that experience data loss go out of business within two years.

I’m guessing they mean TOTAL data loss, not just a few emails, but you get the point.

I tell my clients over and over again about the importance of backing-up data, but sometimes it just falls on deaf ears. But please understand one very important point – ALL hard drives eventually fail.

In fact, a common stat for hard drives (available as part of their tech details) is their MTBF number. MTBF means Mean Time Between Failures and it is a measure of the expected life of the drive before it fails.

So it’s not a matter of IF, but a matter of when your hard drive will fail. Being prepared can save you a lot of grief – and money.

If you use your computer for business, you absolutely, positively HAVE to have backup – and use it regularly. In fact, a good measure of how often you should back-up your data is to ask yourself “How much data can I afford to lose?”

One day? One week? One month? Whatever your loss comfort zone is, you need to back-up at least that often.

What are your options?

The easiest way to back up your data is to simple back up to another hard drive. I back-up regularly to a second local drive. That protects data from everything except fire or theft.

To achieve fire and theft protection, I also back-up to a portable hard drive, which I then place in a fire-proof box in an off-site location. This requires me to do two manual backups, but I do them regularly so I am always covered.

A better way to do off-site back-up is by using a service to store your files remotely. Choose this service carefully as if your off-site back-up company goes out of business, you may lose your data.

And since many off-site backup services use proprietary encryption, even if you somehow rescued the data, it may be unusable.

Using a reliable service that has been around for a while is the best bet. Here are a few of the better known backup services:

Carbonite
Mozy
IronMountain

PC Magazine did an article on The Best Online Backup Services Roundup in 2008 and it is still worth a read.

Macintosh users may be interested in this article on using TimeMachine to back-up to your MobileMe account.

There is a discussion here on using Amazon’s AWS as an off-site back-up storage solution. Storing data on AWS is inexpensive, and it is a great solution for many file storage and download issues, but the system for using it for off-site data storage so is somewhat clunky and the degree of difficulty may put some folks off.

Bottom line is that it is much cheaper to preserve and back-up data than it is to retrieve it from a crashed drive. There are a lot of data recovery services that can help you if it already too late, but if you have the choice, back-up and save hundreds of dollars.

No matter what you use to accomplish it, backing up you data is crucial and you need to start today if don’t back-up now. That MBTF number is an average – your hard drive could quit a lot sooner that the number indicates. Don’t get caught without backup.